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November 18, 2003

Tired and sleepless

Last night I was tired and sleepless. Even after I went to bed, around 12:30, I lay there. I had some palpitation last night and again this morning, 60/minute, weak pulse, could feel it in my sternum. Why?

I think I am feeling stressed and that I am not handling the stress well.

In the short term, I need to have some coffee, have a morning nap, revise my lecture, and get through the day.

In the slightly longer term, I need to cut back on the coffee and get myself to bed earlier.

And, for the morning non-sequitor, I worry that many of my longer blog posts below are too long. Not in absolute length, but in having too many words for the ideas. Blog entries, for me, are a rough draft of an idea. Like a think piece, they are often what I write to figure out what I really believe. My rough drafts are always long and rambling.

Speaking of rough drafts, make a note to bug the kids - their Uncle Tom's Cabin papers are due a week from today.

And so to have a day.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:15 AM | TrackBack

Grey and cloudy

I feel grey and cloudy today.

Class went fairly well. It was not great - rambling, poorly focused. I need to work up something better to do with this slot next semester. We talked about Bowery B'hoys, minstrel shows, working class culture, immigration, anti-catholicism, Bible riots, telegraphs, railroads, the commodification of agricultural products, and why people cared about slavery in the Western territories.

I am tired still, and mazy, and, well, grey and cloudy.

Factoid of the day, from The Mediterranean Passion atmospheric pollution was so bad in late Victorian England that many houses had soot screens outside the windows - thin screens that caught the larger particles of atmospheric pollution before they could land on the glass. The skies were often yellow during the day, black at night, and the gas lights which burned constantly were never enough to light the way. Pemble does not mention the poor design of the British gas lights - they did not have a proper vent for the smoke from the burning gas, and so the light sooted up its own globe within a few hours after being lit. American gas lights had chimneys, and were brighter.

Thursday I get to kill the Whig party. That class will be much more focused.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:03 AM | TrackBack

November 17, 2003

Surveys while sleepy

Via En Banc I see that Political Compass has a new political survey.

Not suprisingly, I came out to the left. I was a little surprised to see that I was a mild pragmatist and not an idealist.

Axis Position
1 left/right -3.7275 (-0.2244)
2 pragmatism +1.1684 (+0.0703)

On their earlier survey I consistently come out strongly libertarian, mild lefty.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:52 AM | TrackBack

HTML is your friend.

It appears that has been hacked. I use them for my private blogroll but, in order to get my links sorted and alphabetized, I write my blogroll on the left in straight html.

I am reminded of the old rule of thumb about web authoring tools like Dreamweaver: they are convenient, they are fast, they are powerful. They are also not perfect. When I was teaching professors how to put up web pages for their classes, I always made sure that they knew the basics of html. Even if someone else was doing the initial coding for them, even if they were using a Dreamweaver, they had to know enough to go in and make basic patches to buggy code.

Sometimes it is cool to be square. Most of the time it just takes more time.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:17 AM | TrackBack

Sebastian and I have

Sebastian and I have about run dry in the earlier debate. Actually, we ran dry several exchanges ago, but argument and inertia do keep things going. And, as Annie pointed out, we were debating oughts and not actuals.

I want to start a tangent based on the last couple of exchanges, and a tangent gets its own toplevel post.

While Sebastian and I have surprisingly different policy goals, mine by preference and his as a compromise, our approach to the debate was shaped by a surprising similarity. He, a conservative, and I, a liberal, both approached major policy questions from the perspective of beleaguered minorities. And, as beleaguered minorities, we were suspicious of outside policy proposals. Similarly, Annie was feeling left out because we were not engaging her posts, she too felt like a silenced minority.

But why was everyone feeling like a minority? Is there no mainstream any more?

Personally, I look at national policy debates from, well, a national perspective. I see Team Texas in the White House, a Republican majority in Congress that goes out of its way to ignore and marginalize the Democratic minority, and state-level Republican parties, especially in Texas, who are willing to break the code of customary respect in order to gain political advantage (I am thinking of the redistricting proposal). If you know that John Ashcroft will be in charge of executing the laws, you just assume that those laws are going to be executed in a partisan fashion. (1) On the national level, the Republican party is currently dominant, that party is dominated by its conservative wing, and that wing is dominated by the Texas crowd. You don't have to buy into the whole Kevin Drum Texas conspiracy theory to distrust these guys.

So, I fear giving them any advantage because I do not trust them to use their power wisely. Those are harsh words, but there you have it. Emotions can be harsh.

Holsclaw seems to feel that the current legal system is largely to completely to the liberal side. He made those statements when talking about abortion policy. Expanding that insight to other conservatives, Randy Barnett of Volokh worries about speech laws and civil liberties. Many conservatives appear convinced that popular culture and the media are against them and that they have to struggle to get their moral messages through a society dominated by music and images glorifying self-indulgence and cheap populism. I have to admit, when I see Hollywood movies turning again and again to cheap ripoffs of populism in order to rally the audience against "the man", I feel like reaching for God and Man at Yale for a counter-injection of conservativism. I do not yet have Emperor Misha's vitriol at being surrounded by "liberal idiots" - but if you have the stomach to read him go flip through a couple of pages and notice that he writes with the voice of a beleaguered minority; he sees idiots everywhere.(2)

Annie, meanwhile, is cranky at the male-dominated tone of our argument. We were phrasing things in terms of natural law morality and abstract legal justice. We were not using data, or looking at outcomes, or conveying any empathy for women. Women have historically been silenced in political discourse. Contra Kim Du Toit they are still under-represented and under-voiced. There may be more women than men, but they do not have a public voice comparable to their numbers. This might be the mommy track taking people off the grind to high office and high corporate positions, it might be subtle sex discrimination, it might be that the schematic strict father / nurturing mother does indeed describe how we want our politics; if enough voters want an authority figure in office and respond to men who project authority, then women will indeed have trouble gaining office and trouble gaining the bully pulpit.

If everyone feels like a minority, and everyone is defensive about it, how can we raise the tone of political discourse?

The first, something I failed in my original rant about lies, is to be very sure that we understand our opponents before we criticize them. I have been struck this week by how good Eugene Volokh has been at making sure he understands the things he comments on. Other pundits should take lessons from him. To the extent that I opine, I include myself in that category.

Following that, we need, all of us, to ask people if they have made their point in the most constructive way. The challenge is to do this both to the people you agree with (at the cost of appearing to rhetorically disarm) and to people you disagree with (without appearing to be chaining the subject or ducking their points.) dueling rants are counterproductive. I already vote against Republican demagogues; I currently support Clark over Dean largely because Clark can make his points without going over the top with his style and without giving in on the substance.

Beyond that, add my name to the growing list of people who are concerned about the long-term consequences of our current districting system for the health of our polity. While there have always been locations that are strong for one party or another, more and more we are moving to a system of rotten boroughs and safe districts. Too many candidates run unpacked or effectively unopposed. This means that, as in the early 19th century, the real elections are the statehouse elections before the decennial census. One reason that the Texas redistricting hack bothers me so much is that De Lay and his Texas buddies are setting a precedent where once any party gains enough of the statehouse they can redistrict the state, right then, so that they will not lose another election.

That sort of politics kills a two party system. Go re-read Michael Holt's Political Crisis of the 1850s. In the past single party politics in the United States has produced politics of personality and of personal character assassination within the parties or, in the late 1850s, purely sectional politics to the point where people who lost a national election could not imagine life as a minority and seceded rather than be destroyed. One-party politics have been unstable in the past. And while two-party politics has its faults, I would like to think that if we drop two-party politics we do so after serious consideration.

Is there a better way to handle redistricting while still keeping geographic electoral districts and first-past-the-post election laws? Gerrymandering is a fine political tradition, just ask Elbridge Gerry at the start of the 19th century. Redistricting has traditionally protected most minority party members who are currently in the legislature while giving an overall benefit to the majority party. I don't want to turn districting over to a judge, we might turn districting over to a commission but those are not stable solutions. What I want, but can not imagine, is some form of the old cake-cutting solution: I cut the cake, you have first choice of pieces, so I have an incentive to cut the slices evenly.

With luck this would resolve the "waah, we are all minorities" problem. There is a big difference between turning to lawsuits, extra legal pressures, or dropping politics altogether and the fine political tradition of "wait until next election." If we always feel that we will have a chance in the next election, then any loss is only temporary. And, if we know that we can always lose the next election, any victory will not be exploited because, to do so, would be to set a precedent for when the other party has power.

I am not sanguine about electoral reform. If half of what I fear about the Diebold machines is true, then things are getting worse. (Oddly, I have encountered conservatives worrying about what those Democrats are trying to do with the push-button machines. Paranoia runs deep.)

That means that the only way that districts are likely to be shaken up is if we see a new political alignment. Some of the signs of such an alignment are in the air - the small l libertarians are forming their own wing to try to turn libertarianism from men in tinfoil hats to a viable alternative to Texas Republicanism. Dean, despite his terrible phrasing, wants to challenge the current ethnocultural focus of many Southern voters. 2004 is going to be an interesting election. I suspect that women voters are going to be the big surprise here. I have been struck by how many women operate political blogs - in cyberspace no one hears the pitch of your voice - and how powerful their words have been. While women generally vote class, religion, and race before they vote gender, that can change, especially if we see more groups of women working to get women the early funding and name recognition they need to get through primaries and state and local level party committees.

(1) It is not true that I despise all Republicans. I despise Ashcroft, DeLay, and Rove. They are partisan hacks who are perfectly willing to sell out the democratic process in search of temporary advantage. I dislike Bush 43: he has a systematic disconnect between his rhetoric and his policies, and lies are my hot-button issue, but the man appears to be trapped within his world view while the others are aggressively malicious. Cheney and Rumsfield, while I disagree with many of their policies I approve of the men themselves. Both are smart, do appear willing to re-think their assumptions, and can (usually) tell the difference between a political disagreement and a bonfire. Powell is not part of the inner circle, I generally like him. I don't know enough about Rice to have an opinion.

(2) For the record, I think that anyone who seriously believes in a "political correctness" movement is an idiot. And, if you parse Misha and remove the emotion and ranting, he ends up saying very little indeed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:14 AM | TrackBack


I am tired. I have been tired all day. It made it hard to concentrate and slow to work.

I pushed very hard last week, then spent the weekend doing house things rather than resting.

The good news is that the rewritten chapter 3 just went out the email door to my advisor. It is much better. I hope it is enough better.

The bad news is that I tend to work in sprints and drifts, sprints and drifts. I just finished sprinting, but I do not have free time to drift.

Time to get some job apps into envelopes and some more of that TOO MUCH back grading done. Did I mention that I have only a rough outline for tomorrow's class?

I just want to eat pastry and drink coffee and read fiction and nap in my comfy chair.

Ah well.

And so to walk the hound.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:24 AM | TrackBack

November 16, 2003

Emotional Weather

I spent most of yesterday writing, with a break to go plant bulbs. I was, as I am this morning, somewhat alone with my work while J and baby did other things in the house. I had a good morning, revising chapter three again and printing it out again. I should be able to send it to my advisor on Monday.

Later today J and I are going to sit down and work up a menu for Thanksgiving and then send out an email to friends and family telling them what to bring. We are doing a semi-pot-luck Thanksgiving for 11, including both sets of parents, both brothers, some extended family, but not my sister from Albequerque. We will cook the turkey, other people will bring side dishes. It will be a lot of fun. It will also be a hassle, especially because J's father and his wife are coming early and camping out on our sleep sofa.

Reading other blogs, I see that I am not the only one thinking about the holidays. DW is feeling insecure about an emotional attachment and is sad because she has no one to go to parties with. Sarah Hatter is broken up because she is not going home for Thanksgiving. I like reading what DW and Sarah write; they are both wonderful writers and, like me, they both have a strong loner tendency.

The holidays are hard. They are a time for family and festivity, and yet family is stressful. They are a time when the ambient media clutter turns to tunes of joy and saccharine love, and yet at the same time the days are growing shorter, the leaves are dropping from the trees, and the skies are turning grey. November, for me, is a bare tree with its branches against a sky of moving grey clouds, black against pearl-grey, with undertones of brown. Those are not happy colors.

As I was reading Sarah and DW I was reminded of some lyrics by Jimmy Dale Gilmour, the operatic cowboy tenor.

You've got to go to sleep alone
even if you're lying with somebody you really love
you've still got to go to sleep alone.

I am trying to decide why Gilmour came to mind as I read Sarah talking about the way that her friends get confused because Sarah sometimes prefers to read a book alone in the park rather than sit around and chat. I think that the connection I am getting at, obliquely and poorly, is that we are all, to some extent, locked inside our own heads. And yet we all, to some extent, thrive on human contact. What varies, both from person to person and, over time, within each of us, is how we balance our inner selves and our external contacts.

The holidays jolt us out of our autumnal pattern. We fall into one set of habits as the leaves fall and the weather turns and we begin to move indoors for the winter. Just as we check the roof and fix the weatherstripping on our houses, we also adjust our temperaments as we prepare for our winter retreat. Thanksgiving and the solstice break that pattern: they draw us out when the earlier pattern had been for us to turn within. This is one of the many reasons why we like them, and it is one of the many reasons why the holidays are so stressful.

I take my moods from the weather. I like to walk outdoors, and I like to look at the sky as I do. My walks are my time to attune myself to the season, whether it be the resurrection of green in the spring or the gentle melancholy of the autumn. One thing I have noticed is that, even walking the same route around the local lake, the walk is very different if I take it alone, with the hound, with baby and hound, or with the whole family. I move at different paces; I look at different things; I go from an internal train of thought to a monologue with hound and baby to a chattering discussion with J. All are fun, yet all are different. The way I experience the sky changes depending on who I am with, and my emotions change as well.

I started writing this while partway through this read-through of chapter three. I have finished the read-through and printed the chapter. Now I will let that piece of work sit for a while so that it will be fresh to me when I go back to it. I use time to distance myself from my work so that I can more effectively edit my own words. Time and distance shape our interactions with other people as well. We distance ourselves, and then we rediscover one another. What does this mean?

We still have to go to sleep alone, but we can cuddle first. And cuddling is very good indeed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:03 AM | TrackBack

November 15, 2003

Bright Day

The winds have settled down, and while we might have overnight rain, this morning is crisp, cool, and wonderful.

The weather makes a good metaphor for my emotions today. I was in bed for a good long time, 10:30 to 7:00, and while I had broken sleep I also had much needed rest. Six nights in a row of six hours of sleep had begun to wear on me.

So today I will be reading the draft of chapter three, and grading homework (still badly behind), and - hopefully - playing in the yard, and going to Home Depot, and being, well, academic in the morning and suburban in the afternoon.

I let a lot of house projects slide this week while writing. I will be letting more slide later this month. I feel bad about it; I suspect that my strange dream last night relates to my guilt about not getting enough done, but I do have to prioritize.

What this means for you, dear readers, is that this weekend I will again be putting my A-level writing energy into my real work. Any blog entries will be short, self-absorbed, and hopefully funny.

I still don't know how I am going to combine Walt Whitman, the Compromise of 1850, and the Wilmot Proviso into a lecture that matches the title "Railroads, Telegraphs, and Riots." I can see several short sections, but I am having trouble figuring out how to tie it all together. My earlier thought, to use workingmen's culture as the glue, falls down on the Compromise. Talking about sectionalism falls down on riots (anti-Catholicism) and really falls down on Whitman.

It is not quite like solving a jigsaw puzzle, because in a puzzle you know that the pieces do fit together and you just have to figure out how. It is more a problem of how to take a pile of legos and make a cool car that looks like a house and uses all the blue and yellow blocks. It is a fun problem, but it will take some thinking time to solve it. Then again, this sort of problem solving is part of the real fun of teaching.

And so to read chapter 3.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:19 AM | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

Lyrics Quiz

I only scored 37.5 points on this 80s lyrics quiz that Greyduck posted. I guess I did not listen to enough radio back then. And, although I thought I watched too much MTV, I must have been wrong.

Good lyrics can be hard to write. I know I wrote some real loser lyrics when I played in the comedy-heavy metal college band - we were not good but we were very entertaining. The highlight of the show was the juggling vocalist, that and Dock of the Bay with a punk break halfway through. The other guys came up with those - I penned the lyrics for the generic acid song and the generic war song.

Feh, now I can't remember the only good part of the generic drug song - I had a modulation in a four chord four bar bridge that, I think, walked the circle of fifths to go from G major to A minor.

I played bass, and I can half hear the walk of descending triplets (7,5,3?) as we walked through those chords: long short short, long short short, long short short, long short short. My bass was stolen years ago, the guitar is untuned and sitting in a closet, and the notebooks are long buried in boxes. I guess I won't try to re-create that run - but it was the only thing I wrote that got the crowd to yell. It was brilliantly unstable, and it worked at that point in the song.

The rest of the song was a little boring and repetitive. I found it fascinating because I played a little with the rhythm every few bars, and that made each few bars sound new and exciting to me. Whether from synthesisia or from being mildly weird, to me notes of varying lenghts have a distinct and varying quality. And this quality gets confused with the quality of pitch. So if I play the same note twice in a row, but as a whole and then as a quarter note, it will sound distinct and different.

My confusion between duration and pitch drives J crazy when I try to sing something I do not know very well, for I will get the rhythm of the notes about right and assume that this means that I also have the pitch right - it feels right to me so it must sound good to everyone around me ... right?

Music is one of those things that sounds so easy when talented people do it that we tell ourselves we could do better. Mediocre music is pretty easy; good stuff is most amazingly difficult.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:59 AM | TrackBack

Domain Names is taken. So are and I am not having luck buying, so, I need either a new identifying tag or a new suffic. I have been Red Ted for years, I don't want to give that up. And, I like the semi-anonymity of not using my last name for some of my internet presence. (You could probably figure out my name from this blog, but if you google my name you won't find the blog.)

So, or or - I am not wild about any of them. I will probably go with the .us for consistency, although a lot of people are using .nu for personal pages. If I want a separate domain for this blog, I can be . Hmm, domain names are cheap these days ...

And where to host? I use yahoo for my free email, I have some friends who run a web server and have offered me space for free, or I could dig around for more.

But, I should be writing or grading or gardening, not musing about domain names. Back to the next transition. Transitions are hard - I ended up cribbing the compound sentence from the previous entry as a placeholder for the last transition.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:15 AM | TrackBack

Hard Day

It was a good day of hard writing.

I think I only got down a few hundred words, about five paragraphs. But they were all transition paragraphs (well, except for the two sentences, with Greek and Hebrew examples, explaining the difference between translation and transferral in Biblical translation) and transition paragraphs are hard.

I think I made my argument. Tomorrow I get to read the printout and see if I made it well enough.

With any luck I will get to bed at a reasonable time tonight. I have been just a little stressed this week.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:01 AM | TrackBack

Writing and Grading

Today will be a day of writing and grading. The wind is still blowing outside, though not as hard, and it is a bright sunny day out there. Perhaps, if I do well, I will give myself a break and go finish planting those bulbs.

But, the main focus will be on working on the chapter. I need to do a better job of tying some of my discrete moments into my larger narrative. Briefly, the current section explains how mainstream American clergy tried to combine three sincerely held beliefs: the nation is subject to Providential rewards and punishments based on the religious beliefs of its leaders; religious opinion is personal and inviolate; religious establishments and religious tests, and anything that even appears to be re-creating the former imperial establishment of the Church of England, are all completely impermissible.

So how did they square national providence and religious freedom? I am arguing that they softened the Providential connection between beliefs and rewards. I think I can make that argument, but I do need to make that argument.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:06 AM | TrackBack

November 13, 2003

Gone to Texas

No, not me. The class is going to Texas today.

As part of the revision of this year's syllabus I changed many of the lecture titles to something a little catchier. This will be my discussion of why John Tyler caused the American Civil War.

Well, he did have help. I am going to remind the students of the concepts of contingency, path dependency, change over time, and agency that I mentioned briefly at the start of class, have used since then, and will be using a lot as we discuss the sectional crisis.

I worry that I have too many elections and individuals planned, and that I will bog down in the early 1840s. I guess I will have to be a little sharper and leave out many of the fun details.

I am using Michael Holt's argument about political parties managing sectional tensions, but unlike Holt I am not devoting my lectures to a summary of political history. Instead I am giving a broader picture and then trying to work the political history into the mix. I need to work on conveying information quickly, smoothly, and coherently. Tuesday's material was a little garbled; I could have presented my points in a better order. With luck this will go more coherently, if only because I have taught John Tyler before while Tuesday was the first time I had done a lecture showing how feminism grew out of Great Awakening and enlightenment changes in our understanding of God.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

Out of Context

Looking back at my blog, I find that I made a glorious wonderful typo. I will fix it below, but not until after I have copied it here:

I must be the wind - wonderful gusting blowing wind that makes the house shake

If I were a singer-songwriter, I would make that into a rhyming couplet. But I am not. I do sometimes write mediocre fiction, and that feels like an opening line for a piece that will straddle the purple line between really cool prose and "It was a dark and stormy night".

Posted by Red Ted at 07:39 AM | TrackBack

Sleepiness, Writing, and Politeness

I am once again sleepy. I did not get to sleep until after midnight last night. Despite sleeping in I ran about six and a half hours of sleep. I have trouble writing well when sleepy, I have trouble reading well when sleepy, and I get testy when I am sleepy. Last night I think I broke a rule about not blogging while both tired and angry. For that I apologize. I will leave the offending post up, if only as a reminder to myself to be kinder.

Chapter Three revisions seemed to go fairly well last night. After the baby finishes falling asleep tonight, I will stand up, do the dishes, and then either write some more, grade my ever-growing backlog of papers, or sit on the couch and bleeble.(1) I will probably end up staring at Paschal Strong and the 1823 Yellow Fever epidemic, especially if I can clear my mind while doing boring housework.

It must be the wind - wonderful gusting blowing wind that makes the house shake - for today was a day with not a lot of students in the class room and quite a lot of bad drivers on the roads. Normally when I see a lot of bad drivers around me, I am sleepy and am somehow provoking them by giving unclear defensive driving signals. Today there were bad, aggressive drivers all over the place. They were cutting and weaving far in advance, passing on the right while going 70 in a 45 zone, running red lights, gridlocking intersections, and in the case of one lad in a black pickup truck, flailing arms out the window in frustration at a person who dared to drive the speed limit in the right hand lane while coming up on an exit. Mr black pickup truck then swerved into the far right lane and was last seen heading to the left when the road split - I suspect that if there had been an open shoulder he would have passed on it.

I checked the Jersey driving guides when we first moved here, and I could not find the bit that says that when given a choice and a fairly open road you should always pass on the right. It must be there; almost everyone does it.

Perhaps they are sleepy also?

(1)Bleeble: Push your lips out, blow gently, flap a finger in front of the lips and make a blithering, bleebling, burbling sound.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:16 AM | TrackBack

Whigs and Democrats

I feel strange about today's class. For one thing, I finished my entire outline in class. That rarely happens. For another thing, I am caught up on political history. That too rarely happens. By referring to the events of Jackson's presidency but never explaining the events in Jackson's presidency I was able to: lay out the sectional crisis; lay out and discuss basic historical theories of contingency, path dependency, agency and change over time; review the rise of the Whig party; begin to show contrasts between Whigs and Democrats (showing change over time along the way); blame the American Civil War on John Tyler of Virginia; and fight the Mexican-American War.

In both sections David Wilmot and the Wilmot Proviso appeared two or three minutes before the end of class and served as a teaser. Students don't retain the beginning and end of class well, but I will review Wilmot on Tuesday. I have two classes next week and the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to get from 1847 to 1861; that is a luxurious amount of time to devote to political history. But, I will need that time.

Tuesday of next week the class is called something like: Railroads, Telegraphs and Riots. We are reading excerpts from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass - selections from "Song of Myself", all of "Song of the Broad-Axe" and "I Hear America Singing."

The problem is, I do not remember what I had originally planned to cover this class. I vaguely remember making sure it was in the syllabus so I would have a fill class in case I got behind on the political history. So I ask you: talk for 80 minutes - the rough equivalent of 5000 words or a 2-page skeleton outline - on Railroads, Telegraphs and Riots. Make sure that you discuss Leaves of Grass and the politics of the 1840s. What story can I tell?

After re-reading my selections I notice that what I picked from Whitman was, for lack of a better description, pastoral poetry about industrial work. The mention of Railroads and Telegraphs tells me that I had intended to talk about national institutions. The mention of Riots in the context of the 1840s means anti-Catholic riots. I will put together a narrative of closer ties across the country and increasing tensions within the country. I will need to review Wilmot, cover the Compromise of 1850, introduce anti-Catholicism, discuss the way that rapid transmission of information speeds up political arguments between the sections, describe the increasing flow of immigration and urbanization in the North, and talk about poetry. I can do that - already the pieces of the narrative are coming together for me.

Thanks blog, you help me think.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:06 AM | TrackBack

November 12, 2003

A Strange Day

It has been a strange day. The cat is sick (perhaps because I fell behind on dosing her with all three varieties of laxative), the baby is sick (simple eye-throat bug), and J is sleepy.

I had the baby this morning, then dropped him at daycare and tried to work. I got some things done: a job letter out, prepped class, wrote a few paragraphs on the current chapter revision, a load of laundry, a quick run to the county library. But I still felt tired, cranky, and behind for most of the day.

That might be why I jumped on Sebastian. As Sheila O'Malley reminds us today, sometimes you should just put the keyboard away and go to sleep. I will re-read my bit on Holsclaw tomorrow and see. He sez I am not being fair to his question, and I say he has framed his question so poorly that it is unanswerable: change the frame and the question resolves itself.

I am tired, eyes hurt, and not sleepy. I do hope that the work I wrote earlier tonight is any good. Right now I am revising the middle, the weak part, of my dissertation, and making every sub-section tie into my overall argument. Transitions are hard. My first drafts are always bad. And I am writing a series of new paragraphs to serve as transitions. This is going to need more editing, yep.

And so to take the hound out.

Oh, at least I cooked an adequate gravy for dinner. It has been a week for meat in red sauce, and for junk food.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

Class of Women

Some semesters I have more men, others more women.

Traditionally, history classes have been disproportionately male. Over the last couple of decades this balance has shifted so that, across the discipline, we have about equal numbers of male and female history majors. Some classes, women's history and civil war history in particular, have strong gender biases in the classrooms.

Normally when I teach the survey I have classes that are about evenly divided, often with a few more men than women even though there are more women than men enrolled in colleges these days.

Not this semester. This semester I am about 3/4 women in both sections. This is a good thing in many ways - there are enough women that the women are not being afraid to talk and to challenge me. It is also an odd thing - we do a lot of political and economic history, I like to use students to demonstrate economic and political transactions, and by and large I grab women to play these roles. 18th and especially 19th-century society had strong gender roles, strong gender identities, and people defined their daily lives in gendered terms. It always leads to a moment of cognitive dissonence when I talk about [female name] looking for a wife or raising sons to follow after her or displaying her "manliness" by standing up and voting.

I do prefer to teach women. I do not know why. I started to speculate about the why, re-read my words, and deleted them as specious drivel.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:15 AM | TrackBack

Class Write up - Reforming Women

This was a little free-form, but it worked fairly well. It ran better in the afternoon than in the morning - better turnout, more interested students, more people had done the reading. The afternoon section is just plain better than the morning section. I do not know why - at the start of the semester I thought the morning kids would be better.

This is a long writeup. I followed my notes for the introduction and conclusion. I changed the middle on the fly. The below is what I did and how I could have done it better.

I told them at the top that last week we saw women and society from an economic and social perspective, and this time we were going to cover the same ground from an intellectual and cultural perspective. I like what we covered, but I might re-arrange the presentation. The other way I framed the discussion was by pointing out that gender roles are always changing and that people are always nervous about changing gender roles. What I did not say, but could have, is that people tend to appeal to the past to justify or legitimate their goal for the future. I used a simple clothing example to make the point. Who wears tights now, men or women? Who wore tights in the 13th century, men or women? The class smiled as soon as I gave the second half of it, but it made the point that at one time men showed their legs and were judged by their legs.

We started by discussing the Beecher-Grimke debate. As expected, the kids liked Grimke. I put the two on the board and we summarized what they argued, their points, and their assumptions. That went well.

Then I did a basic history of women and society.

I started with Benjamin Rush, Republican Motherhood, and the idea that the best way to control the horde of young people in the EAR was to educate them in republican values, that women were the only people who could provide that education, and that women thus had to educate themselves in order to educate their children.

I proved this by drawing on Nancy Cott's (I think) evidence on writing styles. Colonial women who wrote letters, even letters to other women, always apologized for writing. They referred to themselves as a "female" correspondent, they apologized in advance for the errors of the letter, their entire style was self-conscious and showed that these women, while writing letters, were very aware that they were encroaching onto "male" behavior. By the 1820s, women stopped referring to themselves as "female correspondents," stopped apologizing, and not only did their writing get better, they were no longer being self-conscious about the process of writing itself. I argued that writing had gone from a male to either a female or an everyone activity; gender roles had changed.

I then quickly summarized the Second Great Awakening, showed that women were more likely to join churches during this awakening, and that this reinforced the notion that women were more religious than men.

From there I moved to a talk about the sentimental culture. This transition was the weak part in the class. Next time I might want to foreground the role of Jonathan Edwards and the Religious Affections. I used him in the second section but not in the first.

I once again set up two columns on the board; this time they were the 17th and the 19th centuries.

I explained that the 17th century people read their Bibles from the assumption that God was King. They focused on hierarchy, glory, and control. Puritans emphasized original sin and argued that everyone was born evil: we are born evil, family government and social laws and punishments are there to restrain the evils in all of us, and only religion can remove that evil. If you die before getting that religion, you are bound to Hell. Puritans were consistent, and many held to infant depravity - if a baby is born and dies immediately, does its soul go to Heaven or to Hell. Logically, based on Original Sin, the soul goes to Hell. Many Puritans believed this (I did not cite Nathaniel Emmons who elaborated this approach in the 18th century).

Furthermore, most 17th century people agreed with a body of thought dating back to the 13th century holding that women were more easily swayed by evil. Eve had tempted Adam, it was through woman that evil had entered the world, and women were obviously moral inferiors to men. I referred to the Salem Witch Trials to set this up, asking the class if more men or women were accused of witchcraft, and why?

In contrast, as we had discussed earlier, 19th century people assumed that women were more religious than men. There was a change in gender, morality and religion.

I continued with the 19th century position that, because God is Good, God could not condemn an innocent infant to eternal damnation. Dead infants must go to heaven. If so, then we must be born in a state of goodness. But, conversion religion requires that we recognize that we are evil so that we can reject that evil and be saved. So where does the evil come in? Hopkins argued that evil comes with the ability to choose, and that evil consists of knowing two alternatives and choosing the worse of the two. Thus children become evil at the time that they learn to make moral judgements.

This approach to the problem of evil then had two consequences. People who taught themselves that sin consisted of making the wrong choice, flocked to the decision theology of the Wesleyan and Finneyite revivals. Ministers asked their audience to make an immediate choice between heaven and hell. Afterwards people were told that they had to immediately renounce sin whenever they encountered it, and Hopkinsian immediatism led to benevolent reform movements including abolition.

The other consequence was less obvious. Catherine Beecher shows the problem: she never thought of herself as evil. She was the daughter of a minister, she was raised up religiously, she took care of her younger siblings after her mother died, and all her life she devoted herself to doing what she thought was the right thing. According to her biographer Katherine Kish Sklar, Beecher was never able to experience a conversion because she was never able to convince herself that she was utterly evil and worthless. Instead, CB joined the Episcopal Church which did not require a conversion experience and was perfectly willing to believe that people were either morally good or morally neutral from the moment of their baptsm. Later on, Horace Bushnell would formalize Cbs position in his arguments about Christian nurture, and the mainline Protestant churches would continue their movement from conversion to nurture, decision to practice.

The weakness here is that I did not prepare a story for the change. The story I want to tell is Jonathan Edwards who, in his Surprising Narrative and his Religious Affections emphasized emotion. For Edwards, religion without emotion was not really religion. But, critics charged, emotions can come from either God or the Devil. How do you tell if your emotional experience was a good or a bad thing? Edwards responded with standard orthodoxy: the proof of a sincere religious experience comes from the change in our behavior afterwards. While some would say emotion only, others would say practice only, Edwards insisted that you had to have both or you had less than nothing. If I had handled this in a different order, with Edwards in the middle, it would have made a better story.

Instead of a story, I prepared a compare and contrast. I showed them cultural differences between the 17th and 19th centuries. I talked about graveyard decorations, from skulls and demons to angels and cherubs. Death was no longer something scary that came unexpectedly - no one posed for paintings while holding a skull after about 1750. Death in the 19th century was a time to think not of Hell but of Heaven. 19th century cemeteries tried to celebrate the afterlife. In this they were much like popular music, which talked about the afterlife as a time when families would be reunited. (I cited but did not sing verses from "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and "Circle be Unbroken". None of the kids would admit to knowing Wayfaring Stranger. I might add music lyrics to the reader next time.) Finally I talked about deathbed scenes like those of Little Eva in UTC. People learned of these scenes through literature and religious periodicals; they tried to re-enact them in their own lives. By the 1830s people on their deathbed were often badgered by well meaning relatives who were hoping for a "good death" where the person dies while praising God for the glory that they see. It was a culture shift, it was a turn to sentimental culture.

Finally I ran through a fairly traditional narrative of immediatism to abolitionism to women's rights. I explained the difference between equal rights feminism and separate spheres feminism, typefied by Grimke and Beecher respectively. I told them briefly about Seneca Falls in 1848 and read a little of the Seneca Falls declaration. I closed with the narrative of women getting the vote: local votes in school boards and local option elections, gained because women had responsibility over children and the home. Votes for political office in some Western states, gained through a mixture of equal rights and separate spheres arguments.

Then women lobbyied for the vote on equal rights terms during WWI, comparing Wilson to the Kaiser for both denied democracy to the people they ruled. They got the vote, the crucial swing votes, on separate spheres grounds by arguing that women would reform the voting public. Women activists assured their followers that once women had the vote they would vote in all of the items on the women's platform. Everyone was convinced that women would vote differently, that they would change politics. I was low on time so I did not review the Progressive argument that only educated smart (i.e. white middle class) people should take part in politics, so lets enfranchise white women while disfranchising poor, illiterate, and underclass people.

The irony, of course, is that while women got the vote on separate spheres grounds, once they got the vote they voted like people and not like women. Women voted much like men did - on class, region, and ethnocultural lines rather than on strict gender lines. The equal rights feminists were right, women really were just like other people.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:07 AM | TrackBack

Bad Pundit, Bad

Sebastian Holsclaw just voted himself off my blogroll with this post.

Edit - see comments. I retract my aspersions of malice. I still think Holdsclaw needs to work on presenting other people's positions fairly and completely rather than making up ideal types about them. Ted K.

I keep two blogrolls, one public and one private. The public blogroll on the left there is for people I read regularly and who, even when I disagree with them, make me think and leave me smarter than I was before I clicked the link. The public blogroll is a vote of confidence. The private blogroll is where I store sites that I want to look at but am not yet sure that I will praise. About half the sites on the private blogroll go public, half get deleted within the week.

What is so wrong with Sebastian's little rant. It is not that he and I disagree on abortion politics. I disagree with many people on abortion politics. What bothers me is the sheer and total intellectual dishonesty of the piece. He posits a perfect set of ideal types, either abortion always and everywhere or abortion never and nowhere. He assumes that all people who are for any form of abortion rights must therefore be for all forms of abortion rights - because you can see some situations in which abortion is a good alternative then you must be a heartless monster in all situations. Holsclaw, in other words, is acting within the modern norms of hyper-political and hyper competitive politics. He is arguing from extremes, painting his opponent into a corner, and - just like George Will - he is doing it by pretending that he does not know what he is doing.

In some ways Holsclaw is arguing like an adolescent: there are no shades of grey, there is only absolute truth, you must be on the side of the angels or the side of the devils. My response to this is, I fear, equally adolescent: by framing the argument in those terms you have either proved that you are too ignorant of the world around you for you to be trusted or you have proved that you would rather willfully misrepresent your opponents than challenge their arguments. Either you are a fool or you are a liar.

Now, that was satisfying but not very useful. I must confess that falsely disingenuous rhetoric will always push my buttons.

What I think Holsclaw is missing here, and what many people who debate abortion are missing, is that rather than abortion being a case where there is a clear and simple choice between two absolute and over-ruling rights, it is a case where two sets of rights conflict. And, to make it difficult, the two sets of rights conflict in a way that is always crucial to the life of one party and sometimes crucial to the life of the other.

We do not legislate other situations where medicine must make us choose between the lives of two people - there are no laws forbidding doctors to separate conjoined twins because the operation may kill one or both. Instead it is handled on a case by case basis, and people make those decisions very seriously because they know that lives do depend on their choices.

The gut sense used in English and American social practice and common law for centuries is the same rough approximation upheld in the original Roe decision. The old rule was that a fetus does not gain rights or protection until quickening - that moment at about the end of the first trimester when the mother can feel motion. Roe codified that, ruling in effect that the competing rights of mother and child should be presumed towards the mother in the first trimester, the child in the third trimester, and roughly equally in the second trimester. We only ended up with fully legal abortion up to the moment the baby is born as a reaction to laws limiting this right. When the decision was politicized, we ended up with law that tastes bad.

Furthermore, while some abortion rights activists take the hardline position that Holsclaw ascribes to all of them, most of them, like most Americans, feel that abortion is a bad thing that is sometimes the best decision. Rather than feigning surprise when people who generally support pro-life positions worry about technology that will lead to more abortions to select for more perfect babies, he needs to realize that even the people who provide abortions see the procedure as the last, worst choice. It is not in the least bit inconsistent to be pro abortion rights and at the same time pursue social and cultural policies that will reduce the demand for abortion.

I guess what bothers me enough that I am writing this and not working on chapter three, is that Holsclaw has taken a policy position and wrapped it in a lie. And lies are contagious. Because he lied, he encourages other people to assume that everyone lies. If we assume that everyone lies, then we spend our time looking at motives and not words. If we look at motives and not words, we project our fears onto our opponents and reduce the chance to create a meaningful compromise. It is because of rhetoric like Holsclaw's that abortion rights advocates are presuming that there is an organized conspiracy to use the recent abortion law as a prybar to take apart the current structure of abortion rights and make the procedure illegal everywhere and at all stages of pregnancy.

I am jumping on Holsclaw because I am chewing on another rant about the politics of lies. It makes me sensitive to lies, and he was there. But he still goes off the blogroll.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:45 AM | TrackBack


The Carnival is up at Deadends. Looks like another good one. Max used a Georgetown theme this time.

I did indeed get Red Poppies in under the deadline. It is down towards the bottom with the other unsortable entries.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:30 AM | TrackBack

November 11, 2003


Via Halley Suitt, I see yet another list of 100 greatest novels, this one from the Observer newspaper.

I have only read 29 of them, am listening to another as my current book on tape, and have put about four of them down unread. Like Halley, most of the novels I marked off were books that had been assigned in class. I stopped reading serious novels after college, at least as a regular part of my reading diet. Since I started doing History, my brain-smart reading has been reading for work, and really good fiction rarely makes brain-dead reading.

This change in reading patterns probably explains why most of the novels I checked off date from before 1950 - I just have not been keeping up with the modern stuff.

Making lists can be a lot of fun. I know I once wrote my own canonical list of things that every well-educated person should have read. I followed that with a list of things that were simply highly recommended reads. Both lists had more history, philosophy, and social science than they had fiction. I might update those lists and blog them.


I just dug up the old list. Yep, they need updating before I post them. I had originally made a list of essential reading, a list of things to be read, and a list of out-takes. I have read some of the items on the middle list, changed my mind about some of the items on the first and third lists, and done some more reading on my own.

What amuses me is that I recorded the list of essential reading in the order in which the books came to mind. The top of the list is Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Is that essential reading? I am not sure. I do know that I decided last time I taught the second half of the US survey, that the next time I teach US 2 I will assign the Autobiography of Malcom X to the kids.

And so to grade homework.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:28 AM | TrackBack

Red Poppies

Today is Armistice Day.

I did not discuss it in class. I perhaps should have, or at least worn a red poppy, but I was busy thinking about what to teach, how to keep up with my syllabus, and whether the baby was sick or not.

The day has been widened to be a day on which we respect all veterans, and people around the blogging world and around the real world have been respecting veterans today. We should respect all veterans; we should especially respect them today. We respect them for what they all did in their times of service, and we respect them with the rituals and memories that we learned after the Great War.

I am going to share with you a story that I learned from my mother and that I share with my students.

Grandpa Louie was short, just over 5'2". He was also a medical doctor. When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, Grandpa Louie went down to the recruiting office to sign up that same day. He was a doctor, and he knew that the army would need doctors.

They turned him down - he was too short. You had to be a certain height to join the army: I want to say 5'3" but I am not sure. In any case, he was off by just enough. He asked the recruiting office how he might appeal, and they told him that there were no procedures for appealing a height decision.

So, Grandpa Louie got on the overnight train from Jacksonville, Florida to Washington, DC. He then went to the War Department and asked to speak to the Secretary of War. He was told that the Secretary was busy, and that he would have to wait. "Fine," he said, "I'll wait." And so he did. He sat down on a chair in the outer office and waited. Near closing time, the receptionist asked him what he wanted to see the Secretary about. Grandpa Louie explained that he was a medical doctor, that the army needed doctors, and that he was being kept out because he was too short. The word went up the chain, and a senior official (I want to say the Undersecretary for Recruitment, but it could have been anyone) came down and signed a special exemption so that Grandpa Louie could join the Army.

Doctors were officers, so they made Grandpa Louie an officer. Most of the time, he just did the same sort of doctor things that he had been doing in private practice. Officers also had to take part in some of the ceremonies and rituals of Army service, including parades. And, as part of parades, officers rode horses.

Army horses are, well, very very large. Ordinary sized people often use a mounting step to climb up onto them. Grandpa Louie needed extra help over and above that in order to get up onto his horse. But he used a doubled mounting box, or had his orderly hand him up, and he participated in parades and performed his army duty.

That was the funny story, now we get to the sad story.

Grandpa Louie went overseas soon after he joined the army; doctors did not need a lot of training. He worked in the field hospitals in tents behind the lines in 1918. The worst thing he saw, however, came on the voyage home.

He sailed home on a ship full of young recruits. The winter of 1918-19 was the winter of the Spanish influenza. The troop ship they were riding across the Atlantic was one of the ships where the influenza went pandemic. The ship was full of brave, active, healthy and energetic young men. They were the flower of their generation. They got sick with the flu; many of them died. Grandpa Louie did what he could, but in the era before antibiotics there was not a lot he could do but try to keep fluids in them, keep them comfortable, and sign the death certificate when they died. All through that voyage, flag-draped corpses went over the side. Grandpa always cried when he told this part of the story. I am crying as I type it up now. I often break down when I tell the story of the Great War in class.

Despite the terrible losses among a few military units, either on the battle front or from the flu, the United States came off fairly easily from the Great War. Elsewhere, the war really did kill and maim a generation of young men. England raised its military units regionally, and many towns and communities saw every family lose a son over the course of a single battle. The Morris Dancing tradition in England only continued because women took up the male ritual. In France, which suffered the worst per-capita casualties, about one man in five was killed or wounded during the war. One in five! Germany had more total military losses, Russia more civilian losses, the war was a charnel house for everyone in Europe. The flu epidemic that followed the war was even deadlier.

The war killed a generation of young men. It killed the hope of science; it killed the idea of progress; it marks the change from the optimistic nineteenth century to the pessimistic twentieth century. The history of the last eighty-odd years has been the history of the Great War. We are still, indirectly, living with the consequences of that war.

Armistice Day is our collective memory of the Great War. It is why we wear red poppies on our lapels. We remember, because we must remember.

Dancing At Whitsun

* (Trad / Austin John Marshall)

It's fifty long springtimes since she was a bride
But still you may see her at each Whitsuntide
In a dress of white linen and ribbons of green
As green as her memories of loving

The feet that were nimble tread carefully now
As gentle a measure as age do allow
Through groves of white blossom by fields of young corn
Where once she was pledged to her true love

The fields they stand empty, the hedges grow free
No young men to tend them or pastures go see
They have gone where the forests of oak trees before
Have gone to be wasted in battle

Down from the green farmlands and from their loved ones
Marched husbands and brothers and fathers and sons
There's a fine roll of honour where the maypole once stood
And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun

There's a straight row of houses in these latter days
Are covering the downs where the sheep used to graze
There's a field of red poppies, a wreath from the Queen
But the ladies remember at Whitsun

And the ladies go dancing at Whitsun

Posted by Red Ted at 08:00 AM | TrackBack

Carnival Submitted

The Carnival is being hosted at Dead Ends this week. I sent them my piece on I do not have to beat my wife, she does it for me from October 12. It is older, but I did not write anything really good in my blog this week, and so I mined the archives.

EDIT - I emailed asking them to run the piece on Red Poppies just above this. If I had known I was going to write the above, I would not have sent in the mild funny. But then I saw invisible adjunct's picture of red poppies, and I had to write.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:30 AM | TrackBack

Chest Hair

I think I might want to shave my chest hair.


Lets just say that this message is sponsored by the Society of Babies with Small Grasping, Clutching, Pulling Hands and leave it at that.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:59 AM | TrackBack

November 10, 2003


I have been pretty whiny this weekend. I look over the previous few entries and I want to kick myself in the butt.

It is easy to get depressed when things do not go well. It is also easy to get mad at someone for not picking up the pieces and getting on with things. I appear to have been doing both, and now it is time to move to the second part. I am prone to seasonal depression, and to depression when things do not go well for me. I can also manufacture energy and get things done.

Well, now is the time to get things done: I have an edit plan; I have started working on it; I have dropped an email to my advisor explaining my plan and its strengths and weaknesses. Get it DONE

On the way, I also get to prep class, grade homework, write job letters, pick readings for next semester, order books for next semester, work on the house, and cook dinner.

If only I did not have a strong urge to curl up with a lot of fatty sugar snacks, a novel, and a reading light.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:13 AM | TrackBack

A Good Day

After a lot of whining early on, I have had a good writing day. I feel much better about the changes to chapter three. I was able to tighten the first third without garbling the chronology - mostly because I took a section that was already out of chronological order and moved it earlier in the chapter. I know what I am going to do to tighten the rest of the chapter, and while I still have to do it I now feel confident that I will be able to do it. Confidence is half the battle.

I was also able to prep class for tomorrow. The kids are reading parts of the Beecher-Grimke debate and writing a softball homework: "Who did you find more compelling, Beecher or Grimke?"

We will discuss that, then I have a prepared lecture on sentimental culture, abolitionism, the antebellum women's movement, and the Seneca Falls convention. If we have time I will go over some details of Jackson's Presidency and discuss Richard John's argument that Richard Mentor Johnson's response to Sabbatarians pushed religious reformers into the anti-Jackson camp. From there I will be able to introduce the Whig party in time for us to do a political history lecture on Thursday.

As I was reviewing for class I was amused to note that Catherine Beecher was arguing in 1837 for a vision of gender roles much like the one that Kim and Connie Du Toit visibly regret. The difference is that in 1837 Beecher was articulating a new understanding of a traditional division of labor, changing the meaning of the division while continuing the form. In 2003 the Du Toits seem to want to continue the meaning while changing the forms. Beecher, you see, argued that while men engaged in active political debate and worldly deeds, women should abstain, not because they were weak but so that they could gain moral force over men by exerting the soft compulsion of love. The Du Toits are arguing, in part, that while women should engage in active political debate and pursue (almost) any job field they desire, women retain an inherent civilizing and nurturing function which must remain distinct from male roles.

However, all of this work came at the expense of writing job letters, grading homework, or planting bulbs in the garden. Ah well, if I had everything, where would I put it?

Posted by Red Ted at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

Jobs and chapters

I need to get some job letters written. I need to get this chapter revised. And I have been having a crisis of confidence - as anyone who reads the whining below should be able to figure out.

There are interesting jobs with a deadline in a couple of days, I need to get the paperwork out. I am having trouble selling myself on my qualifications, and this makes it very hard for me to sell other people on my qualifications. Some people are good at faking it; I am good at convincing myself to be enthusiastic and then letting my enthusiasm carry the day.

Still, I need to get the letters out.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:24 AM | TrackBack

Wanted: 19th century women

If I go with:

  • Textbook, $75
  • Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre, $12

  • Paine, Rights of Man$5
  • Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Fron $7
  • Marx, Communist Manifesto $6 as is, $15 with other readings in 19th century socialism.

Then I will have a good set of readings with one small problem: we will have no primary documents for half the population of Europe. Which of these should I cut so I can give the kids some women's history?

Decisions decisions.

And, because I am an intellectual exhibitionist, you have the fun of watching me distract myself from writing and class prep by agonizing over what books to assign. I hope someone is enjoying this workplace blog into the life of an academic.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:03 AM | TrackBack

Random Questions

If you like looking at eye candy (cute people of the appropriate gender, for ogling purposes only), do you have a reciprocal responsibility to provide eye candy in return?

Should you have to buff up before you admire the sweet thangs who walk around showing [whatever body part inspires you]?

Can you fulfill this responsibility by sharing virtual eye candy? i.e. by posting pictures on a web page, taking photographs and sharing them, or encouraging someone to work out?

I ask because I am feeling fat and lazy this week, and yet the undergraduates continue to, well, be built like undergraduates.

I think the answer is that, while it would be a good thing if most of us buffed up or dieted down, the free rider effect means that there is no absolute responsibility to provide eye candy to others while admiring it yourself.

Perhaps if we could inculcate this sort of mutual obligation we could counteract the fattening of America. Alas, I fear we have tried it, and all we have gotten is an overweight nation, bulemic teenage girls, body-obsessed young women, folks ranting about Barbie, and lots of boring dirty pictures on the internet. Oh, and of course a growing worship of celebrities - who provide eye candy so that we don't have to.

I rather like that last thought. I have long wondered why we seem so obsessed with celebrities and, especially for folks who have access to the Internet, read People Magazine, or look at the various paparazzi rags, why we keep looking at pictures of these celebrities. Perhaps what we have is some level of transference: we can not provide eye candy for others in our own bodies, but we can swarm after a celebrity, make our little paper shrines to their appearance, perform the cadenced rituals of scandal and exposure, and by caring about them we make them our own. Sharing a picture or a story about a celebrity can then stand in for sharing a picture or a story about ourselves.

This is a wonderful theory. I have no intention of proving it. I do not even know how we might prove it. But, posting in a blog is the solitary electronic version of coming up with nonsense while drinking beer with your friends in the corner pub. I don't have to prove it, I just have to amuse my audience.

I do hope you were amused.

ps, The notion of reciprocal obligations as sex objects is something I first stumbled across in Anton & Wilson Illuminati Trilogy. The notion of fat people posting pictures of skinny people came up as I was surfing about the web and found some sites where folks had both an image of themselves and images of skinny people. Notice that I do not have an image up on this page - but it is also semi-anonymous.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:43 AM | TrackBack

Picking books

I am thinking about books for next semester. So far the only classes I know I will be teaching are two sections of Western Civ part 2 at Local Suburban University. The history department there are nice folks. This will be my first semester at Local; I should expect students whose reading skills and work loads are comparable to students at Urban Research University; and they insist that I use primary documents as part of the syllabus. I was glad when I heard that during my interview.

I have picked a textbook. The textbook I chose has a couple of short documents in every chapter, which means that I could get away without a reader if I wanted to. I am going with Tom Noble et al Western Civilization: The Continuing Experiment. from Houghton-Mifflin. While I know two of the authors, and am friendly with one of the authors, I am picking this book over the alternative because it has better pictures.

You laugh, but images and art are an important part of Western Civilization and I thought that these images did a better job of matching the material. I also decided that having several short documents interspersed in the narrative would work better than having one long primary document at the end of each chapter. I was interested in some of the Prentice-Hall offerings, but their review copies never appeared. It is too late now, but I will bug them for next semester.

I have not picked readings. Or, rather, I have not finished picking readings. I know we are reading Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. It is an unwritten rule of Western Civ that you have to read Remarque, even though many people also read it in high school. I know we are reading something from the French Revolution. I am currently leaning toward Tom Paine's Rights of Man although I might also add some Edmund Burke. Hmm, perhaps Burke's speech where he makes the points that will later be elaborated into his response to Paine?

What I have not decided is whether I will stick with those two primary documents, if I will add a monograph of some sort, or if I will go with a reader. I want them to have something that shows the ancien regime, I want them to have a monograph, but my historiography is weak on Western Civ and I can not pick a book off the top of my head. I need about 200 pages of easy reading about Georgian or Victorian England, preferably talking about class and social structure; that would be about perfect.

Looking on my shelves of unread books - the read books are all in boxes in storage - I see three candidates: John Pemble The Meditarranean Passion about Victorians and Edwardians on vacation, Ina Taylor Victorian Sisters, about four English sisters who married across class lines; Isaac Kramnick, Bolingbroke & His Circle, about eighteenth-century British politics, or Robert Darnton The Great Cat Massacre about eighteenth century French society and culture. Darnton is the most influential of all these books; he is also the only one I have read for myself. I guess I need to gut a few books this week. I might even have to go to the storage unit and shift boxes. Ugh.

Writing this has been useful. I will add a monograph of some sort, if only to expose them to the ways in which historians think. Darnton is my null choice. I will look for something I like better but if I can not find anything better, he will do very well indeed. So what if it was written in the 1960s; it is still good work and it inspired a generation of historians. If I use a reader, I will add some Burke.

Now if only my Russian history was more up to date.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:53 AM | TrackBack

Not So Bad

After another email exchange with my advisor I do not feel so bad. I can keep the structure, I just need to work on introductions and conclusions, making my points at the top of the paragraph or sub-heading rather than in the middle. I can do that.

I still will cut down on John Henry Hobart of New York City, which is a shame because he is a fun guy. Well, fun in a very smart-very busy-very argumentative-very high church kind of a way.

I might paste some of the deleted paragraphs here. My academic voice is verysomewhat unlike either of my blogging voices.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:07 AM | TrackBack

November 09, 2003


Sometimes you want to share something that others might find to be Too Much Information.

I don't run moveable type, so the TMI goes in the comment box.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:57 AM | TrackBack

Bulb HO

I spent some time this weekend playing in the dirt.

We bought a lot of bulbs to decorate the house with, mostly from Brecks. So far this weekend I have spaded up and bulbed four small beds around the outside of the house. I have one more bed to plant, and then I can naturalize daffodils, tulips, and crocuses around the house.

I think we ordered almost 300 bulbs. So far I have planted over half of them. That is a lot of spring flowers. I hope it will look OK when they come up.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:56 AM | TrackBack

A Writing Plan

After thinking about it for a day and a half, I have a plan for how to fix chapter three. I think I can get away with one moment where I break chronology. I will break chonology when I talk about Christian Unity, and put that discussion earlier in the chapter even though my money quotes are from Tocqueville in the 1830s. I will cut out my discussion of John Henry Hobart in 1808, putting a short version of those four pages into a single paragraph footnote when I talk about the era after the War of 1812.

That was cryptic, sorry. Look up or down for a more accesibile post.

It is odd. I am generally a very logical person: I look for logic and argument in other people's writing, I max out aptitude tests involving logic, I kicked but on the GRE on logic; and yet I can not write a coherent argument. I struggle with my arguments, with how to present information. I get bogged down describing things when I should be arguing about them, or arguing irrelevancies and ignoring the central question. This weakness is what makes me wonder if I am on the best career path.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:54 AM | TrackBack

November 08, 2003


I am going back EIGHT drafts. My advisor suggests that I sharpen the argument by re-arranging my sections. This would be fine, except that I have spent the last two and a half YEARS trying to get the argument to make sense while I present my material in strict chronological order. Why? Because back then he complained that he had lost track of the order of events.

I am very frustrated right now.

I am going to take a shower, calm down, and see if I can figure out a way to sharpen the argument within my original chronology OR to re-arrange my chronology without losing track of time and space.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:38 AM | TrackBack

Interfaith Marriages

From Philocrites: Interfaith marriages.

Here's the first Philocrites discussion topic for Unitarian Universalists, suggested by John B. (Thanks, John!) Is your spouse or partner Roman Catholic? What works and what doesn't work in your interfaith marriage? What resources have helped? What resources would you love to find? And what about the kids: How are you raising — or how do you plan to raise — your children? Click the "Comments" link below and share your stories and insights.

If you have another sort of interfaith marriage, feel free to join the conversation — but we'll probably come back to this topic for UU-Protestant, UU-Jewish, and other sorts of interfaith marriages later.

I answered there, I am reposting here.

I am in an interfaith marriage that, so far, has worked well. The keys for us have been that, despite coming from very different religious traditions we have fairly similar religious world-views and that, we are both able to talk about our religion. J was raised Reform Jewish, prefers the worship practices of Conservative Jews, but lives a theology and level of kashrut that is closer to Reform. I was raised Roman Catholic, drifted away from the dogmatism, and seriously contemplated conversion to Reform Jewish before settling down in the "Courtyard of the temple." On those tests of religious constellations, I come down as Reform Jewish or liberal Christian; for my work I read 19th century evangelical Christians.

The odd thing is that two of J's cousins married a pair of Catholic brothers, and all three households have their own solution to the intermarriage. J and I agreed to raise the kids Jewish; we are handling the Christmas problem by having no Christmas tree in the house until the youngest is 7 - at that point they should be old enough to understand the differences. Christmas is a holiday that happens at Grandpa's house.

Our marriage ceremony was interesting. Both Rabbis in the town we lived in at the time would have been glad to supervise a conversion but would not, as a matter of principle, conduct an interfaith marriage. A Catholic marriage was out of the question; neither of us could have made those promises. We looked into having a Virginia lay officiant marry us; we looked into having our of our friends licensed as a lay officiant; we ended up going to the local U-U church and working with them. The minister was on sabbatical that month, so our marriage was performed by a very nice U-U divinity student. We designed the ceremony, and the celebrant was the legal figure as we stood up before God, family and friends: Protestant ceremony structure, all readings from the Hebrew Bible, vows tweaked for equality.

What works and does not work? You really have to pre-plan. It does not matter how you handle the interfaith question. What matters is that both partners have an honest discussion, in detail, about how they intend to approach it. You can not put the hard questions aside for "later" - you have to figure them out before you tie the knot.

Our intermarriage has made congregation-shopping difficult. Some reform temples trumpeted their interfaith accommodations so loudly that we wondered if they had a Jewish quorum. Others gave us the cold shoulder once they heard about the interfaith marriage. Where we currently live we found a Conservative temple that accepted us, but J worries that I do not have ritual space available to me. If we are still here when our son becomes Bar Mitsvah, I will not be allowed to come up and bless him, and that bothers J a lot.

But, odds are we will have moved by then. That is one decision we will defer. Or rather, we know that while J prefers the worship practice at most Conservative temples, before eldest son starts Hebrew school we will have to go congregation shopping again and will most likely change to a Reform temple.

This is longer than I thought it would be.
Ted K.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:25 AM | TrackBack

What to do

I looked over chapter three, I looked over my advisor's comments, and sure enough, I have indeed been playing writers whack-a-mole. While I fixed two problems in the October series of edits, I made a third problem worse. So, now I get to go fix this third problem and try not to break anything else. Two steps forward, one step back.

It does not help that I have a complicated 8-step argument, that I am trying to deduce widespread opinions from a data set dominated by the public statements of elite leaders, and that I am trying to explain a complex social phenomenon at the same time that I am making a complicated argument about the effects of one portion of that phenomenon.

I am once again doubting my ability to actually perform in an academic career. That is not a good feeling.

And so to write.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:28 AM | TrackBack

November 07, 2003

Oof Dah

Yes, I know I just had an Oof Dah yesterday. I am having another one today.

Chapter four is done being edited and has been packed away in mulch until I finish working on chapter two. Then four will get tweaked a final time and sent off to my readers.

Chapter two is 79 pages long and underdocumented. I don't have the energy to dig into it right now - will eat lunch and plant bulbs in the garden instead. But, now that I know where I am going, I should be able to take the metaphorical chainsaw to chapter two and carve it down into a good lead-in to the meatier chapters. My core argument is in three and four; one and two just set the scene.


Chapter done, now I can shower. (today's shower - I shower as a break after my morning work period.)


Ugh, and I am behind on grading homework. Well, I can work on that in lots of little stints.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:58 PM | TrackBack

Grammar Checkers

I have a problem with comma splices. It is my current most common grammar error.

The grammar checker built into Wordperfect 9 (a very good word processor) catches comma splices. So, I run the checker as I finish editing a chapter.

The grammar checker also always treats a word as its most common part of speech, even when the same word can be a noun, verb, or adjective depending on usage. People is a verb according to grammatic; I use it as a noun. This means that I spend a LOT of time grammar checking because it stops frequently and gives me false negatives. And, if I do rewrite a sentance, sometimes the grammar checker chokes and I get to restart from the beginning. It is boring and tedious, but I have to do it.

The good news is that chapter four is as good as it will get this pass. I am going to finish the grammer run and then put it aside.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:22 PM | TrackBack

Crappy Porn? or gender roles?

I see via Carly at Pornblogography (NWS) that this is Protection from Crappy Porn Week.

And what is crappy porn? Let me quote Hanne Blank whose idea this seems to have been:

What do I mean by "crappy"? Well, basically, I mean pornography that doesn't affirm what sexuality really should be all about -- or what being a human being really should be all about.

To my way of thinking, CRAPPY PORN is sexually-explicit material that:

* is not produced in and/or does not affirm the principle of informed and revocable consent
* perpetuates damaging stereotypes about sex and the people who engage in sex
* economically and socially exploits any living being, particularly women, children, and members of sexual and ethnic minorities

She goes on to give examples: choking, grabbing, dehumanizing. In the language I like to use, I would say that she likes erotica in various media but dislikes pornography.

To phrase it differently, we can imagine a difference between feminist and misogynist erotica; the first treats sexuality as an exploration between equals, the second treats sexuality as a contest where you should trick, cheat, abuse, and dehumanize the object of your desire. The first is a good thing, although as always I would distinguish between imagination and practice and warn against "sex without love." The second is, well, just plain ugly. It worries me that people like it. And yet, someone must like it or pr0n would not be a multi-million dollar business despite produce products that are chock full of misogynist bullshit.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:19 PM | TrackBack

Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is better than last week's.

1. What food do you like that most people hate?

Anchovie and onion pizza. I learned to like it in college, where if you ordered a pie to the common room people would try to sniv a bite. Almost no one borrowed from this one, especially if I could get the hot pepper flakes onto it before the lovely lady who liked anchovies pizza but not hot food could ask for a slice. Sometimes I am selfish.

2. What food do you hate that most people love?

I have a hard time thinking of foods I hate: all I can come up with are grits, fried okra, tripe, strongly flavored slimy food. And I can't think of many people who love these, other than grits which are regionally popular.

3. What famous person, whom many people may find attractive, is most unappealing to you?

John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The man had good political instincts, he made a productive life for himself despite living in terrible pain through most of his adulthood, and yet he was also far too willing to take credit for other people's work, polish his image at the expense of others, and indulge himself at the expense of doing his duty. His wife was not much better.

4. What famous person, whom many people may find unappealing, do you find

Whittaker Chambers. There is something, if not attractive, then fascinating about a person whose mind works entirely in modes of pure good and pure evil, and who has the literary skills to express that mind. His hatchet-job review of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is one of the modern classics of reviewing.

5. What popular trend baffles you?

Let me make a list. At the moment, the trend that baffles me the most is the self-reinforcing nature of celebritihood. People talk about them, show pictures of them, they appear on magazines, and I just do not know who they are. Nor do I care who they are. I am not quite as out of touch with popular culture as William F. Buckley, who famously confessed to not knowing the name of "that black woman who is alternately fat and thin," but I get close.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:01 PM | TrackBack


Chapter 3 comments came back. I have not made a clear and coherent argument, I do not carry my argument between sections. So, I get to work over it yet again.

I am getting sick of chapter 3.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:51 AM | TrackBack

Chapter Four

I finished scribbling over the latest draft of chapter four last night. Today I get to type in my changes. The chapter now looks pretty tight, but I will leave it lay while I work on chapter two. After it has composted for a couple of weeks I will dig it up and see if it still makes sense. Then I will send it to my advisor and second reader.

Why am I telling you this? Because typing days are also blogging days - expect a lot of short entries today.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:40 AM | TrackBack

Morning updates

Looking over my blog posts from the last few days, I see a few places to update and remedy.

Kim and Connie Du Toit spell their last name Du Toit and not du Toit. Apologies for the mistake.

In my discussion of fires, I appear to have confused suburban sprawl into canyons and fire zones, my primary target, with Gary Jones' discussion of rural forests. Gary Jones sets me straight.

On the 6th I wrote that Sheila O'Malley is on fire today. Looking again, I see that she wrote her really good piece about talking acting with a French exchange student on the 5th - I just read it on the 6th. Details do matter.

After further review, I do not intend to make any further direct comments on Kim Du Toit's piece on gender roles. I have been covering gender roles in class this week, my next project will involve gender roles, and I expect that I will continue to think about and discuss gender roles - I might even refer to his piece, but I decided it was not a good use of my writing time or your reading time for me to fisk his rant.

And so I go

Posted by Red Ted at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

November 06, 2003

Cows with Guns

Courtesy of LeeAnn at The Cheese Stands Alone, I give you:

Cows with Guns.

What is it with LeeAnn and music? Half the time when I read her site I wander away singing "The Farmer in the Dell" to myself.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:41 AM | TrackBack


Edit - the du Toit link works now. I wrote the below from my memory of reading his rant earlier this week. After re-reading du Toit I see that I should have written the below a little differently. Du Toit is very good at pushing buttons, he got mine. I just have to decide if it is worth writing a paragraph or three in response to every sentance in his rant, if I summarize him, or if I let him go as an unrepentant patriarch who prefers ideology to evidence.

Via Meryl Yourish I learn that Michelle of A Small Victory has been arguing with Mr. and Mrs. Kim Du Toit about gender roles. (the Du Toit's like the old-style terms of address and formal gender roles.) The Du Toit's web server is down at the moment, but the whole thing started when Kim Du Toit posted a rant about gender roles in which he blamed violence against women on a society where "political correctness" deprived men of the chance to experience "real" manhood.

I started this post three times, and deleted it each time. My problem is that I have too much to talk about.

Do I go after the Du Toit's simple hunter-gatherer model of social interaction where men hunt, women nurture, and neither must ever cross into the other's realm? That would be tedious to do at length, and it would boil down to: yes dear, but once we invented agriculture we changed our roles. And besides not only are gender traits are overlapping bell curves, any particular behavior you want to describe is found among men, women, "real" men and the various types of "fake" men you use as negative referent groups.

Do I go after the whole conservative bugaboo about political correctness? I have yet to see a rant about political correctness that did not boil down to someone who was resentful because an authority figure either was risk-averse or was trying to enforce politeness. No, I take that back. Some of the cases of "political correctness" involve an administrator who tried to use regulatory power to prevent people from taking advantage of interpersonal power imbalances.

Do I give a history of some of the negative referent groups that the Du Toit talks about, demolishing their entire casual argument that political correctness led to the "pussification" of men and that this then led to metrosexuals engaging in rampant date-rape while singing rap music? Here is a hint, dandies, bullies, and macho men all pre-date the 1960s experiment in consciousness raising, often by several centuries. Once you lose the causal argument, the du Toits' argument turns into a simple rant in favor of rural over urban cultural styles.

Do I go off on gender roles, lambasting du Toit for his intentionally provocative use of the word "pussification" to emphasize the idea that women are inherently weak, non-confrontational, and subordinate, and that any woman who does not fit that description is somehow "un-natural". It is easy to go after people who take culturally defined sets of values and behaviors, assert that they are universal, and then invoke "nature" to support their position. Unfortunately, it is also hard to change their minds.

Do I jump on one of the commentators on Michelle's site who tried to take the old Albion college rules for sexual encounters and argue that this completely opposite the way an encounter should run. If you don't remember, Albion posted rules of behaviors that required that the horny party (they may even have simply said man, ignoring sub-dom and same-sex interactions) ask verbally and receive verbal consent before each increase in intimacy. This can lead to a very cool scene in a mild D/S kind of way. "May I touch you ... here?" "yes" "And here?" "yes" "and where should I touch you next?" "HERE". It, like most of the so-called political correctness, is just a ham-handed way to regulate manners. Sex is like dancing, one partner leads and the other partner follows. A lead is just strong enough to convey a desire: just as when dancing you pull her hand towards you and up to indicate a spin, during an intimate encounter the outward pressure of two fingers between her thighs is enough to signal that you want to place your hand between them. If, at any point (exception, safe-word play) you use a level of force, intimidation, or strength that you would not use on a public dance floor, you have just stepped into the very slippery very dangerous world of using power imbalances to exert sexual favors.

Du Toit has a point, people should not be afraid to indicate their desires, and people should respect the desires of others. He wraps that point in a batch of real man braggadocio, straps guns to its back, sends it out hunting, and feeds it red meat when it returns, but the core point is still there. Take responsibility for your actions; respect the desires of others. At that level, stripped of all the bullshit, Du Toit is pointing out that adults should act like, well, adults. That good underlying point gives the rest of the bullshit some heft, it is the rock in the snowball.

What amuses me is the link between du Toit on manliness and Jones on the environment: both focus on looking in the long term, thinking about consequences, and taking responsibility for our actions. But this common core is wrapped in some very different baggage.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:41 AM | TrackBack

You Go Girl

Sheila O'Mally is on fire today. She has written a lot of words since I last checked her page yesterday, and they are good words. She writes well, she makes me think, she jump-starts my brain for the day.

We like redheads, yes we do.

This random shout-out brought to you by the Society for Admiring Smart Red-headed Women.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:13 AM | TrackBack

Forests and Trees

Gary Jones at Muck and Mystery has a very good article about forest conservation and a followup about the Salton Sea. His immediate target is poorly informed, highly emotional environmentalists. His secondary target, and what he sees as the underlying cause of poor environmental decision making, is that people are being insulated from the consequences of their actions.

Jones argues that Eastern and Western forests have different trees and growth cycles, that national fire and forest management strategies were developed and sold for Eastern forests, and that these policies are widely destructive when applied to Western forests. Using California as his example, he praises state-level forest management that tries to reduce ground litter, thin trees, and prevent conditions from leading to over-growth and fireboxes while condemning federal forest management that kills fires while letting forests choke and kill themselves. Jones blames the poor choice of federal policy on several things: the myth of forest destruction shown by Bambi and Smokey Bear, the prevalence of Eastern attitudes in national policy making, and a ferocious yet uninformed campaign of vilification by ultra-conservationists who refuse to see any policy that might look like foresting.

Jones argues this at greater length and with more eloquence than I can summarize here. His point, something he continues in today's post about the Salton Sea, is that environmental management decisions need to be made from the perspective of the hundred-year cycle, not the twenty year cycle or the one year cycle. In the short term, it makes a lot of sense to build a house in the foothills, try to refill a temporary lake in the Salton basin.

I want to move beyond his post and look at some of the barriers to better decision making. Jones focuses his ire in the forest article on environmentalists who respond with knee-jerk vitriol any time a forest products company gets near a forest. He argues that this vitriol makes it impossible to build a sustainable plan. He does not look at where the vitriol comes from.

For many years we have been told, correctly to the best of my knowledge, that American forest management has been a federally subsidized boondoggle for the firms with national connections who pull wood from the forests for below cost, break up ecosystems, and clear-cut every chance they get. From the environmentalist perspective, forest service companies have shown that they can not be trusted. They respond with vitriol to the State level practices that Jones admires because these practices are based on partnerships between state regulatory agencies and what they see as untrustworthy companies. These partnerships are necessary because forest management is expensive, and if a tree has to be culled it makes more sense to sell it than to cut it and let it rot.

There is a second problem with forests and fires. People keep moving into fire zones and building houses. Stereotypically these are new luxury houses, McMansions, and they are inhabited by people who tend to vote against all taxation and for a smaller state. These people then move into unstable terrain and, when fire comes, demand expensive state protection for their private property.

There is a potential way to link these two problems. It is a political problem, perhaps an insurmountable political problem. Most people, it is my gut sense, are very willing to pay for something if they think they are getting a good value for their money. They do not like to pay taxes, in many cases, because they feel that they are not getting that value. This is generally a poor perception, but it is a politically powerful perception.

Basic principles of fairness suggest that people who live in fire zones should pay the costs of protecting their property. Normally we let the insurance system handle those costs - earthquake insurance is cheap in Boston, expensive in San Francisco. In certain situations any event that would lead to one claim would lead to thousands of claims, defeating the insurance purpose of spreading losses around, and the government steps in. It is my understanding that people who live in California canyons have trouble getting fire assistance.

In economic terms, these people are being free riders on the state. Their choice of where to settle adds significant costs to fire regulation and fire fighting, costs over and above the usual infrastructure costs associated with sprawl. These costs are currently being covered through state emergency appropriations. In other words, all of us taxpayers are subsidizing millionaires in California.

The trick would be to somehow use market pricing to reflect the total social costs of having people settle in fire zones. Imagine, if you will, the fire zone tax - a special property tax levied on all construction, old and new, in high-risk fire regions. The proceeds of that tax would then be earmarked for forest management - clearing dead wood, trimming overly dense trees, building firebreaks and then holding contained burns, and insuring against the statistical certainty that some of those controlled burns will get out of control.

The way to sell it is that folks who live in fire zones get extra ordinary fire protection services, and they should pay for what they get. No welfare millionaires! (1)

It will be a hard sell. Somehow we have come to think of money gone in taxes as money lost forever. It is taken from us and we imagine that we have no control over what happens to it - it just vanishes into the black hole marked Government. And yet, at the same time, we think of money and services received through governmental channels as free money. It comes from nowhere, or from a black box, we want as much of it as we can get. Alabama's governor, a Republican, just tried to make the more taxes for more services argument, and saw his proposals go down in a referendum.

Many Democrats are looking for a platform. Most Americans agree with appeals to fairness and equity. We want to do the right thing, we just have trouble telling what the right thing is through our haze of self-interest and the obscuring clouds of spin-laden dust thrown off by the political system. Much environmental policy is based on the simple notion that when a person engages in an activity where they can shift the costs to everyone else, that activity will be more profitable for them but bad for society. Externalities are crucial. The trick is to use regulation to capture and work with those externalities in a way that is: 1, Fair 2, Will not crush individual or corporate initiative, 3, Based on long-term environmental science rather than short term sound bites.

Despite my own inherent democratic (small d) bias, the answer I am coming to here is very Progressive. The answer seems to be to depoliticize some of these decisions and turn them over to a board of experts. The trick is to choose experts who will achieve the policy goals, maintain public trust, and preserve accountability. For the details of that, I will have to turn to the historians of the modern political process.

(1). This is a sample slogan. It would inevitably be met with stories about working people living out a bit, just getting by, and being made homeless by the new taxes. Any new taxation is a form of taking, it lowers the value of the property for any subsequent purchaser. One of the implementation tricks will be to impose the new taxes in a way that does not cause sudden shifts in property values.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:07 AM | TrackBack

November 05, 2003

Andrew Jackson

Last week's homework assignment was "Should Andrew Jackson be honored by being on the United States Currency."

I expected this one to be controversial: Jackson was controversial in his life; people argued about the man and his policies, and historians continue to clash over Jackson today. I got the idea for the question, which I have also used as an exam question, when I read that a group was lobbying the treasury department to take AJ off the $20 as part of the recent redesign of the money.

I had hoped to have the kids give a balanced argument. Most did not, but simply argued one side or the other. The in-class polls came out about 3-1 in favor of removing Jackson, mostly because of Jackson's role in Indian removal. The numbers were about the same before and after we laid out why Jackson should be honored and why he should be condemned. So, why do we like AJ and why do we hate him?

We like Jackson because he:

  • Personified the democratic (small d) political movement arguing that politics and government should not be the exclusive provenance of an educated elite. Almost everyone with a basic education ought to be able to hold government office.
  • Acted on those principles by bringing in rotation in office
  • Held the nation together during Nullification
  • Provided the basis and background for Unionism, Abraham Lincoln in 1861 simply rephrased Andrew Jackson. If there was no Andrew Jackson, there would likely not be a United States today.
  • Won the Battle of New Orleans
  • Intimidated Spain into giving up Florida
  • Focused American politics on dangerous concentrations of power and corruption, including the Second Bank of the United States.
  • Was always willing to do the right thing, even if it was not necessarily the legal or even the constitutional thing.

We dislike Jackson because he:

  • Presided over Indian removal. While Indian removal was a land grab and "ethnic cleansing" not a full-fledged act of genocide, the forced movement of the Southeast tribes was a land grab, an abuse of state and federal power, and so badly managed that about a third of the Cherokees died during the movement. Jackson may not have intended to starve, expose, and otherwise kill thousands of Indians during the move, but he was chief executive, he authorized the movement, he supported the states against the Supreme court, and he is in the end morally liable for all actions taken under his administration.

    Several of the kids insisted that Indian removal was genocide - I save the term for cases where there is an intent to destroy a people or society. The Holocaust was a genocide, the Rwandan civil war was a genocide. Neither Indian Removal nor the Great Hunger in Ireland qualifies - the one because the intent was to expel the other because the massive deaths came as an unintended consequence of poorly chosen ideology. Of the two tragedies, the Great Hunger comes closer to a genocide. But I digress.

  • Murdered men. Jackson killed men in duels, he hanged militia men, he performed judicial murder on two British citizens in Spanish Florida during the 1818-1819 incursion.
  • Trashed the American economy during the Bank War. Jackson destroyed the central bank; he pursued pro-cyclical economic policies; he made an unstable boom bigger and the ensuing crash deeper.
  • Violated the Constitution and the separation of powers. During the Bank War he moved Federal money around against Congressional legislation, during Indian Removal he refused to enforce Court orders. These were a particular instance of
  • Placed his own interpretation of what was right above law and constitution, turning the American government into a rule of men and not a rule of law.

  • Turned government employment into a partisan perk, sacrificing efficiency in return for loyalty. This would not be fixed until Civil Service reform at the end of the 19th century, and the reform ended up producing what some call a stratified and ossified Federal bureaucracy.
  • Owned slaves. Most rich Southerners owned slaves, Jackson owned a lot of them.
  • Invaded Spanish Florida without orders or authorization, provoking an international crisis. (it turned out well for the U.S., but he still disobeyed orders and conducted policy on his own.)

Then there are quirks about Jackson that describe him but are less subject to praise or condemnation.

  • Jackson broke up Rachel Donelson's marriage. He did so in order to protect her from an abusive husband, and while Andrew and Rachel Jackson's first marriage was bigamous (and they probably knew it) it was also a mitzvah. Jackson broke the law but did a good deed.
  • Jackson had a ferocious temper. He lost it seriously at times, he also faked rages at times. He regularly lost his temper for real when Rachel's honor was challenged, especially involving that bigamous marriage.
  • Jackson drank, especially when he was a young man. But then, so did many people, especially when we were young.
  • Jackson despised paper money, so why put him on a paper dollar?

  • Jackson adopted twice, the second was a Creek Indian baby whose parents and family had all just been killed by Jackson's militia during the War of 1812. Jackson, an orphan himself, took the child in when no one else would and raised Lyncoya as a son.
  • Jackson was emaciated, 6 feet tall and 145 pounds. He was thin by nature, the two pistol balls in his body from duels and the lifelong digestive and bowel difficulties from his repeated dysentary and typhoid during the war of 1812 left him skeletal.
  • Jackson was in constant physical pain from 1803 onwards from dueling wounds, constant emotional pain from 1828 onward from Rachel Jackson's death. Pain made him angry. For most of his political career Jackson was "Ol mean ol man ol Jackson" or "Angry old Jackson;" he was even meaner and angrier as President.

I have my own opinions on whether Jackson should be on the American money. But, before I give my answers, I was wondering if any readers wanted to give their opinions in the comments. You can make a strong case either way, which is why I like the question.

edit - added last few items to third bullet list. Forgot them earlier.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:11 PM | TrackBack

Grey day

It is a grey, grey day. And my knees hurt. I was up too late, first finishing Harry Potter, then working on classes, and finally just rattling, and even when I got to bed I did not sleep easily. Then, at 3:00, the baby got cold and woke up. Morning was awfully early today.

I am mazy and slow this morning. I still have to finish prepping for the class on slavery. I have a chapter in dire need of editing, and I will have to be sharp for that. Some days I feel like I am swimming in peanut butter. This is one of those days.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:40 AM | TrackBack


Carnival of the Vanities number 59 is up at wizbang.

Carnivals keep getting bigger and bigger. My entry is buried down at the bottom this time, underneath a great long list of pretty cool titles and subjects. I suspect that I will not get as many readers for 19th century drinking games as I got for Meatloaf Lyrics and the Politics of Lies. Politics and punditry seem to be the bread and butter of blog readers; most bloggers write personal diaries but most people who read blogs like to read punditry.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

November 04, 2003

Birds and Class Prep

I had two thoughts on today's walk, and because I had them near each other they must be connected. Right?

The first was that we saw some new birds in our lake today. There are always ducks and geese, and often seagulls. There are herons - both blue and great blue - and great white egrets stalking the edges regularly. Today we saw something new - a loon was swimming and diving by the near bridge. When you consider that 12 or 15 years ago that lake was completely unsafe, it is remarkable that there are enough fish to support that many fishing birds.

On our way back around the lake, we got an added bonus. One of the blue herons decided to flap over to a log in the water next to the trail. We stopped and the baby got to admire a heron. He has seen them before, but only from a distance. I like the wading birds; they have a gawky elegance.

The second morning thought was that this is election day. I did not stop and vote during the morning walk - dogs still don't have the franchise and I had the hound with me. I will vote in a few minutes - the voting station is at the end of our block. What I was reminded to do was to describe 1840s voting to the students today in class. I will ask them how many of the men rose early to vote? How many of the women chose to praise men for having voted? How many of them felt the need to stand around the voting place afterwards to watch to make sure that no unregistered voters came to pack the box, and to watch to make sure that the box did not get vanished? I will ask how many got together with friends to go vote, and how many went alone.

Voting technology has been in the news a lot lately with the push to electronic voting machines and the lack of a paper trail from those machines. If Diebold's critics are right, the new voting machines are an invitation to electoral fraud. Voter fraud is nothing new, many of the voting rituals I just described were intended to give citizens a chance to act vigilantly to preserve liberty against electoral fraud. Every time we have changed our voting technology we have changed our electoral rituals and, often, we have changed the way we distribute the franchise. The technology shapes the action: viva voce voting, paper ballots, written ballots, punch cards, levers, and now touch screens. Of them all, paper ballots were the most democratic. But, they are also a bother to count, and these days we want instant results from our elections.

And so to vote.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:39 AM | TrackBack

November 03, 2003

Type type type

"Another great long book, eh Mr. Gibbon. Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, eh Mr. Gibbon"

I am not quite that long winded, but I did finish scribbling on chapter four and am now ready to type in the changes. After scribbling it is much tighter, I cut out a lot of stuff. The thoughts I blogged last night helped a lot. Now to type in the changes, and read it again.

It is just that I have patterned myself. I can not sit down at the computer without blogging. I tell myself that by starting to write, anything, I get myself flowing with my writing. Getting started is the hard part. Once I get started, it goes well.

And so to work.

ps, I enabled titles and commented out the old comments - part of my puttering with the template.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:55 AM | TrackBack

Monday, Monday

Monday looks like it might be a good day. The weather is nice, I got enough sleep, and I have some good ideas for my work.

Today I need to prepare class for tomorrow, do some grading, and finish hashing through the scribbles on chapter four. With luck I should be typing them up by lunchtime.

Today the handy neighbor and I might also be running the cable-modem wire so that I can put the cable modem in my office and not in the master bedroom. It will be good to no longer have ethernet cable snaking around the upstairs hall.

We have been in the house since July. It is finally starting to get uncluttered and be nice to live in. This is a good thing, as we will be having about ten people over for dinner in three and a half weeks. By then we will have pictures on the walls, the last picture boxes out of the living room, and a pleasant space to live in. We went through a period of slacking off a month or so ago, we had gotten most of the house ready and then we did other work and let clutter pile up. J. got into a cleaning kick - it might be nesting instinct kicking in early, it might just be that she got tired of clutter. She has been reading the FlyLady stuff, and while she is not buying the whole message she is stealing some of their techniques for organizing her time and getting more done.

It is amazing how much better I feel in a clean house. And, according to J, it is amazing how much of the housework I do compared to some of the husbands of the women on her email lists. I am thinking about housework because one of the things I will be lecturing on tomorrow is the invention of housework in the 19th century and the shift of domestic responsibilities in and out of the market economy during the 19th century.

I intend to blame housework on Catherine Beecher. She did not invent it, but she did do a lot to popularize it and we are using the Beecher family as our window into the past this semester. The invention of housework was a two-part story. The first part saw commercial production move out of the house and into separate buildings. No longer did the master live above the shop, the servants and apprentices in the attic, and everyone worked on the ground floor together. People began to separate house and work, at least in cities and villages. The master lived away from the shop, the workers no longer lived under family government but were in boarding houses and other ersatz families. As men worked more out of the house, women, whose work had traditionally been more closely associated with the house and not the fields, saw three countervailing patterns.

The first, the Catherine Beecher pattern, was for middle-class women to get dropped from the productive economy and move over to the consumption economy. No longer making butter, storing food, or managing apprentices, middle class urban women had large houses and not much to do. So, Beecher turned care of the house from a chore, one of many and less important than working the dairy, to a duty. Women were to spend their time entertaining and presenting themselves and their spaces, your gentility was measured by your living space, and so keeping a clean living space became a moral duty.

The second, the middle states farmwife pattern, was for women to turn to from household production to commercial production. This pattern was most common in rural areas. Women had always run the dairy as part of the gendered division of labor. By the early 19th century many American farms had become butter factories. Rather than putting up some butter for family use or local exchange, women were maintaining large herds, hiring women to work for them, and spending all day milking, skimming, churning butter, making cheese, and tending the cheese as it cured. Dairying was the most notable of these rural factories run by women, but women were also involved in broom manufacturing, out-work, and other tasks where they took traditional female jobs and brought them so much farther into market production that the nature of the task changed.

The final pattern was most noticeable among young women, immigrant women, and black women. That was a turn to wage labor outside of the house. The biggest employment was domestic service, helping those middle class women in the first category dust, clean, cook, and present a refined appearance. The second biggest wage employment was factory work, a new category, but factory workers were a mere fraction of all women in the wage economy. Here the common pattern early was for young unmarried women to work in factories for a few years before getting married and setting up housekeeping. For a single women, especially from New England or the Middle States, there were not a lot of choices of what to do before marriage. Many young men headed west to prepare land, coming back to marry their beau's or court a new lady, and the age of marriage was creeping upwards. Meanwhile women could stay at home as part of their parent's household, they could work as dairymaids or productive farm workers in other commercial farms, they could take up domestic service, or they could go down to the factories and use machines to spin thread and weave cloth.

There is a fourth category, one I need to remember to show the kids tomorrow. Slave women continued to do field work. Only a few slave owners had the big plantations and the house servants. These are, of course, what visitors remembered and they are the core of the Moonlight and Magnolias romantic view of the South. But for every gracious mansion on the James or the Mississippi, there were twenty ramshackle shacks in the middle of the cotton belt, buildings thrown up quickly to last a few years before master and slaves moved farther west to better lands. I think I will mention slave women Tuesday but will save the full discussion until Thursday.

Not all 19th-century women bought into the notion that housework was a duty. Housework was most common among middle class women who had dropped out of the productive economy. These were the same women who embraced the theory of separate spheres, the notion that women were more moral, more religious, and had a duty to nurture and educate children. Separate spheres grew out of republican motherhood, the notion that women had the duty to educate themselves so that they could educate a rising generation of good republican men, but separate spheres soon added "evangelical" religion to the earlier scheme. (I use the quotes because evangelical did not become an identity until the 1840s and modern evangelicalism is a twentieth-century phenomenon.)

Catherine Beecher performed a sort of moral jujitsu with separate spheres. She believed that women were naturally gifted with nurturing, religious, and moral natures. She believed that they had a Divine duty to stay out of politics, a men's realm, and focus on domestic concerns. But, in the service of those domestic concerns, women could and should influence society. Early Catherine Beecher, the women we will be studying tomorrow, focused on teaching as a job field for middle class women, giving them a way to earn money and support themselves, without the need for a man, while remaining within the feminine sphere. Towards the end of her life her focus on women's duty to spread domestic values gave birth to the political wing of the temperance and education movements. A few women voted right after the American Revolution before being disfranchised in the early 19th century, women next voted in the late 19th century in school board elections and local referendums on temperance laws.

Enlightenment guarantees of natural rights were not proof against a social climate that assumed a "natural" difference between men and women. Counter-enlightenment appeals to morality and religion did bring women back into public affairs.

Housework is political. As the 20th century feminists reminded us, everything is political. The politics of housework ran in odd and unexpected directions.

That was useful, I just prepped a fifth of my class for tomorrow. And, I have a better understanding for why it makes me happy that I will be working in a clean house today.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:22 AM | TrackBack

Oof Dah

I finished typing in the edits to chapter 4. It has been a very good work day. The new version of the chapter is 11 pages shorter and, I hope, much more tighly argued.

Now I have a printout to take to office hours with me tomorrow.

And so to go grade homework

Posted by Red Ted at 07:59 AM | TrackBack

Strange Search Terms

I check to see how folks find my blog. Most of my references come from places like the Carnival of the Vanities or the folks who have blogrolled my little diary. A few people come through google. Over the last couple of days I have seen a surge of searches focusing on: Ann Coulter Pictures Adam's Apple Transgender. It appears that my little piece on the Politics of Personal Appearance has gotten into the search bots, and that people are indeed concerned with this sort of triviality.

Then again, we live in a culture that celebrates "celebrity" - which as near as I can tell consists of being famous because you are famous. Celebrity this, celebrity that. ABC is flogging a night of celebrities to celebrate its 75th anniversary of television broadcasting. The murky corners of the web are full of pictures celebrities with and without their clothes.

I guess that I do not watch enough TV and do not listen to enough modern music. I hear about these celebrities, and all I can think of is "who dat?"

I wonder how many folks in the 19th century had the same response when Charles Dickens went on tour through the United States? I know that many people flocked to see Jenny Lind sing, and she too was famous largely for being famous - and for singing well and letting P.T. Barnum package her well. Can we trace modern celebrity culture back to P.T. Barnum and, perhaps, the sunset tour of the United States by the Marquis de Lafayette in the 1830s? If so then perhaps instead of being grumpy about celebrityhood and praising myself for not knowing these people, I should condemn myself for failing to take part in a fine American tradition.

But I still do not know who most of these people are.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:18 AM | TrackBack

Gender and blogs

My current study break is to read blogs. I click, I click, I click, and I read. It is like having an entire universe of op-ed pages, academic side notes, and personal revelations.

One of the things that I have noticed about this is just how female the blogosphere is. I went down my blogroll on the left, and while it is about 60/40 male it is not typical. Based on my impressions while surfing, especially on the blogsnob randomizer at the bottom of my blogroll, there are a lot of men with policy and punditry blogs and there are a lot of women with personal diary blogs. As with most gender generalizations, this is of course a question of overlapping bell curves - there are some seriously punditoid (it is a word now) women, and some guys who like to record their emotions and daily life.

I remember when the internet first started to go mainstream - Yahoo had just opened - and the net was a heavily male realm, as were computer games. Women have been moving in, and at the risk of talking out of my ass I would say that women seem interested in using the net to share themselves, while men often use the net to distance themselves from others. I don't know if that distinction will hold up if tested - certainly there are anonymous men and women all over the blogosphere - but it will work as a null hypothesis for me to test in my future browsing.

Women have a long history in information technology. My mom worked for IBM's New York City office installing mainframes the 1950s. Back in those days most of the customer service reps were women. Mom had to go to client offices wearing a hat and white gloves. She is a short woman, about 5'2". She kept a screwdriver in her purse so she could open up the machines and fix what was wrong with them. She still had her Southern accent, she cursed like a longshoreman, and I gather that the overall effect produced cognitive dissonance in the people she worked with.

But, information technology, like most of the engineering-based professions, was a mostly male realm for a very long time. It is only as the web has taken computer use out of the engineering world and into the household world that we have seen these gender changes.

In part this is because the blogosphere, like the larger online society, is itself a part of larger American society. And, as many people have noted, some aspects of the feminist revolution have succeeded to the point where people who deny that they are feminists have internalized the core values of feminism. The college women I work with genuinely can not comprehend the world their grandmothers grew up in, where certain fields and certain life expectations were defined by gender. Male jobs, female jobs - those ideas have to be explained to them. If you tell a modern college woman that she can not be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer because she has the wrong plumbing, she will think you are crazy. And yet, the same woman will deny being a feminist.

We still continue to debate nature and nurture. We still notice gendered patterns in human behavior. And so while women can and do take up any job field and can and do write about anything they want to, I still see a preponderance of women among the personal blogs and a preponderance of men among the pundit blogs.

Perhaps I am following the wrong link circles and looking at the wrong corner of the blogosphere.

(this seems to be gender day - two posts on gender issues already!)

Posted by Red Ted at 02:01 AM | TrackBack

November 02, 2003

Slow Coffee

One more random thought before bed. I got new coffee today - I seem to be going through about a pound a week of half-caff. I am drinking it so fast that I added my current coffee blend to the blog template.

As usual when I need coffee, I went to the coffee shop with the good roaster and the slow wait staff. This time the counter girl found a new way to make us wait: there was no line, she was right there to take my order, she had no trouble ringing up two pounds of coffee to be paid by personal check. Nope, she simply spent five to ten minutes flirting with the cook while standing around not measuring out my coffee. Meanwhile the little man was playing with the glass counter before the desserts, so at least we were entertained.

In many ways I am too mild of a person. My father in law, who is a bit of a jerk, would have yelled at her and told her to work faster. I try not to act like a jerk. I know that I get taken advantage of from time to time because I am not assertive in trivial situations. I stay quiet because I have a truly terrible temper. When I lose my temper I shout, I stamp, I slam my fist into things, and then I seethe and seethe. I learned long ago that I could either be mad and miserable all the time, or I could take things a easy and let the little irritations of daily life slide off me.

I am much happier this way, but I do have to wait for my coffee.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:18 AM | TrackBack

Writing and Gardening Today

Writing and Gardening

Today was an odd day. I spent the morning writing - finished an edit pass on chapter four and started on the third read before typing up my changes. I spent the middle of the day playing in the dirt. We are planting bulbs at the front of the house. I put in about 50 bulbs, although after I got the yellow emporer tulips in J told me she thought they were going someplace completely different. I might dig them up and move them. I spent the late afternoon running errands with the little man - for some reason the discount store was much emptier in the middle of the Eagles game than it is on a Sunday morning before the game starts.

My thought for the day was one of simple curiousity. J and I both do our weekly work seven days a week. She brings things home and gets a few hours done to cover the time she spends on child-stuff, choir stuff, and exercise stuff during the week. I write on the weekends because I write when I feel sharp, regardless of what day it is. Sometimes I wonder about going back to the square world, working in an office every day, and having evenings and weekends to myself. It would be nice to have evenings and weekends, it would be nice to have time to get back into gaming, or to take up a hobby. But then I remember how much I HATED working in an office, and how important it is to me that I am able to take a nap, walk around the block, or otherwise work when I feel productive and not when I happen to be in the building. Of course, I still need to get it done.

Chapter four is not as terrible as I thought it was yesterday. Most of the problems can be fixed with cutting, trimming, moving side points to the footnotes, and re-arranging my points so that they make logical sense. There is a lot of blue ink on the pages (grading in blue this week), but the second read-through was pretty smooth everywhere except my discussion of ultra-temperance. I still need to do a better job of connecting ultra-temperance and ultra-abolition to my larger argument about evangelicalism appearing as a self-conscious identity among American Protestants only after 1845.

Earlier I argue that the continuing nature of controversies meant that religious controversies served as constant reminders about the norms of civil religion. I might be able to bring the idea of repetition into that discussion, and argue that the repeated nature of disputes about ultraism succeeded in destabilizing denominational alignments without re-coalescing around ultra principles. I say that already, but I could say it better if I bring in the repetition meme.

That was a note to me, sorry if it is confusing to you.

And so to drink a glass of milk before bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:11 AM | TrackBack

November 01, 2003

Domain Names? I have

Domain Names?

I have a domain name that I really want. I thought about buying it 10 years ago, and 8 years ago, but did not want to spend the money at the time. That was a bad decision. Since then it has been owned first by a small British company, then by a Hong-Kong based search engine and name-squatter.

The name expires today. If the squatter does not renew, the name will become available in 75 days. I could count the days and mark my calendar, I could pay one of the hosting services to put the name on their watch list and automatically request it when it becomes available. Or, I could use a variation on my preferred name. Or, if the current squatter renews it, I could make them an offer for the name.

The .us and .cc suffixes are available now. I think I would rather have the .com, but my preference for that version of my name is low. So, I think I will count the days and keep checking the .whois databases to see if the squatter renews. If they do, I will make them an offer. If they charge too much, then it is off to two-letter land.

As of right now I prefer .cc, one of the caribbean suffixes but used worldwide for personal sites, rather than the .us suffix.

Vanity, thy name is Ted

Posted by Red Ted at 11:26 AM | TrackBack

Writing is hard I

Writing is hard

I have spent the last couple of days reviewing my draft of chapter four. This, like three, is a chapter that has a good ending but where I have had trouble setting up my conclusion. The current version of chapter four, after the August rewrite, is three sections of about twenty pages each. The first sets up the situation at the end of the 1830s, lays out the historiography, and argues that continuous controversies shaped the way that religious groups understood one another and they way that they understood civil religion. The second section argues that popular interpretive schemes that people used to categorize religious groups fell apart during the late 1830s and 1840s: temperance and abolition together managed to split the largest denominations even as ultra-ism imploded as a credible intellectual scheme. The final section argues that the crucial new understanding of how to handle the problem of the one and the many grew as a response to anti-Catholicism in the Presbyterian church. This new understanding provided a groundwork for people to imagine a new sort of unity, as "evangelicals" rather than as "Christians" by the end of the 1840s.

That was a muddy and opaque paragraph. It matches the muddiness and opacity of a lot of the stuff I have been editing today. I have a lot of trouble articulating some of my ideas - either I get too subtle or I miss my point and have to beat around the bush. I use a lot of shotgun prose - fire a lot of sentences at an idea and maybe one of them will phrase it correctly.

I need to chop chapter four down to about 50 pages, I need to lose the silly parts of my argument, I need to make sure I can justify everything I am claiming, and I need to say it clearly and forcefully.

So, that is what I am doing rather than starting National Novel Writing Month. This blog is a workplace blog, it lets me explain what I do, vent my frustrations, and get some ideas for what to do next. It is unlike most other workplace blogs in that I work alone. Sometimes as I sit at the dining room table editing manuscript I am reminded of the very sweet, very sad movie "Tout Les Matins des Jours" One of the characters there, a widower, spends the second half of his life rising, eating breakfast, going to a separate shed with his viol de gamba, and playing music all day. As he plays, his late wife's image appears before him, and she keeps him company and gazes at him for as long as the music continues. Late at night, he stops playing and comes back to the house to sleep. Towards the end of the movie he comments to his daughter that he has led a very passionate life. She just looks at him, confused as to why this musical hermit could make such a claim. But we, the audience, know his secret and are touched.

I am not that bad, or that maudlin, but I do find that I have a very busy day behind my eyes even as I sit at my table looking over sheets of paper.

I should be ready to type up my edits by Monday. It is going faster than some chapters, if only because it is now NOVEMBER and I am feeling time pressure.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:08 AM | TrackBack

October 31, 2003

Book List I am

Book List

I am adding a book list to the right. Pardon all the publish statements.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:35 PM | TrackBack

Pants. There is something


There is something about pants that is just plain funny. Maybe it is the sound of the word, maybe it is the body parts that they cover, but they are funny. Spongebob Squarepants is funny because of his last name, at least to me. I just tested this - say the word "pants" out loud three times. Pants Pants Pants. By the third time I was smiling. Were you?

There is also something about pants that is just plain annoying. For such a simple garment, they are hard to find in the correct size and shape. Buttocks and thighs are funny shapes and hard to cover well, we are self-conscious about our crotches, that is part of it. But still, how hard can it be to cut two tubes of fabric and connect them at the top? It must be harder than it looks.

Women's pants are sized according to the old standard sizes, first standardized during World War Two. Men's pants are sized according to two standard measures, waist and inseam. If you know how round you are in the middle and how far it takes to reach the ground, you should be able to buy pants. Right?

Those standard sizes only describe two of the three measurements. There is a third, the rise, or the distance between the crotch seam and the waistband. Some people wear their pants high, other low. Some people like the crotch of their pants high, others low. The current trend is for low waist, low crotch, pants for men, and low waist, high crotch, low rise pants for women - hip huggers.

I buy my chinos from LL Bean - they are solid, they wear well, the price is right, and I would rather surf the web for 10 minutes than take half an hour and drive to a store. The problem is that you can not try them on, you have to guess at size and shape. Fat as I am, I still wear their thin cut pants - the mail order catalogs really do cater to pear-shaped desk warriors. I also have to guess about the rise, something that varies from pant to pant, from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from shipment to shipment.

Why am I ranting about this? I am about to order more pants, and I was baffled for a while as to why I could pick between a 35 waist and 29 inseam, 34 waist and 30 inseam, and in dress pants, a 34 waist and 27 1/2 inseam. The different inseam measurements are largely a by-product of the different rise in the various cuts. Two and a half inches difference in an inseam is a LOT; no wonder their dress pants chafe the middle of my thighs. I seem to be replicating all the fun of women's clothing and their "standardized" sizes - these run big, those run small, I am a this size in these cloths and a that size in those clothes, and so on.

It could be worse: a couple of years ago I ordered some fat-ass-cut (natural cut?) pants from one or another catalogue company, and they were so freaking BIG that I tried to get both of my legs into a single pants leg, and almost succeeded.

The current trend towards computerized custom clothing helps a bit. The first iteration of those was not so good. The new generation, especially Lands End's new custom shirt software, is pretty good. They still do not know how to cut a shirt for someone with big traps and scrawny arms, but there are not all that many unathletic mesomorphs out there.

Standard sizes, whether the women's scale of even numbers or the men's scale of inches and dimensions, are a sign of the tail end of the second industrial revolution. They are an attempt to adjust standardized goods for semi-standardized human shapes. The third industrial revolution, the moment that some people call the post-industrial economy, is about using information technology to provide custom results from mass production machinery. That Lands End automatic boutique is the third industrial revolution's answer to the problem of how to get custom tailoring (first industrial revolution - machine cloth and hand sewing) with mass production standard sizes (second industrial revolution).

This is not an original thought, several other people have commented on boutique manufacturing over the last few years. I suppose my final thought will be the mandatory navel-gazing. Blogs are the op-ed pages of the internet. Between blogs, newsfeeds, and the ability to use portals to sort and file news stories, can we produce a custom newspaper/news feed for ourselves? If so, is this the future of information?

George W. Bush recently got a lot of flack for disclosing that he does not watch television news. It was unclear if he reads newspapers. Instead he depends on his staffers to filter and summarize the day's news for him. This can be a good thing - no one needs to get caught up in the pack journalism and media phrenzies of the crisis of the moment. It can also be a bad thing if his news filters are doing a poor job of it. This is the hand-tailored version of a newspaper.

Perhaps instead of getting my news from many different sources I should try to use information technology to create a news filter for myself. I currently read the Philadelphia Inquirer in paper form, the Washington Post and New York Times on line, and about half a dozen political blogs (see the blogroll on the left) for extra commentary and op ed. I do not watch much television and I never watch television news. If I was better about my time management, I would set up a news portal.

But, I am easily distracted and I like to read the news.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:22 AM | TrackBack

Parents and children Da

Parents and children

Da Goddess tells about taking a drive through San Diego with her 7-year old son, Little Dude, and talking. The recent fires upset him a lot. She was very good about waiting for him to bring things up, then explaining them. What was striking about her story was the way that mom and son are, in addition to everything else, friends. It is not all that common for parents and children to be friends, either that or the storms of adolescence tend to bury that friendship, but it happens.

I hope that I can be a similar high quality low-key parent for our kids. Tip o' the hat to Da Goddess.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:47 AM | TrackBack

Template Change I like

Template Change

I like the Garamond font. I was using it for my heading while the rest of the page was in Ariel, but I did not like the mix of Serif and Sans-Serif fonts. So, I went to Garamond-Times New Roman-Times for everything.

I will use this for a day or so and then see if I still like it. Please let me know which was easier to read, the old or the new.

EDIT - as of right now I am getting ready to go back to sans-serif fonts for the web page. Is there a sans-serif font that has the lightness and ease of Garamond?

Edit again, 9:00 pm, going back to Blogger standard fonts. They are just easier to read.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:08 AM | TrackBack

October 30, 2003

Well, I edited up

Well, I edited up the thing on toasting and sent it to the forthcoming Carnival of the Vanities.

All of my posts are wonderful, I don't think I have any real stinkers to send to the bonfire of the vanities. I am so vain that I expunge the bad posts once I identify them.

Speaking of which, this post is feeling nervous.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:23 AM | TrackBack

Homework answer. Last week

Homework answer.

Last week I asked for comments on a paraphrase of some things that Jefferson wrote.

I told the kids that it was a Jefferson paraphrase from the start of the War of 1812, and then asked them to write 200 words responding to: "A free people in arms, fighting in defense of their liberty, are superior to any army in Europe."

I was looking for some recognition that the militia, a free people in arms, broke and ran when they faced professional soldiers (except at New Orleans, where the militia had been in the field with Jackson for over a year and were far more frightened by and inspired by Jackson than they were scared by a few thousand men in red uniforms.)

I was looking for some discussion about the role that Valley Forge played in turning American farmers into soldiers who could stand up to the professionals. 18th century warfare was a matter of nerve, discipline, training and practice. I thought I had blogged about it, but I can not find it in my search history. Perhaps I will do a cameo on it, as I did with drinking toasts down below.

I was hoping for some discussion of the current American debate on guns and gun culture, or some references to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Chechnya.

I do not like what I got. I have graded about a third of them so far. Most of the students mailed it in. I got a lot of pro-forma "free men in arms always win." Those got C at best. A few people talked about the ideology of a nation of arms, either directly or by turning the discussion to the hollywood myth. One so far has quoted Braveheart. Those got B. A few people have talked about Jefferson and placed the thought into the context of the Republican military build-down. Some of those got an A.

I will not use this homework next semester. I will find something real, not made up. I might give them Montlezun's line about "The United States are the great warehouse of the democratic virus. All the widths of the seas are insufficient against these pestiferous influences." It sounds better in French: "Les Etats Unis sont le grand depot de le virus democratique. Tout les espances des mers sont insufficient contres ses influences pestiferees."

Either that or I just like to say "influences pestiferees."

Posted by Red Ted at 09:15 AM | TrackBack

Karl Marx Interview Now

Karl Marx Interview

Now this is good fun: via Crooked Timber I learn that Prospect Magazine conducts a posthumous interview with Karl Marx.

The most interesting, certainly the most memorable, of my undergraduate classes was an upper-level reading class on Marx, Melville and Thoreau, team taught by a historian who studied Thoreau's world and a very good deconstructuralist literary critic ( but of the literate variety, not one of the folks who does the postmodern drone). We met in an octagonal room on the ground floor of the old college observatory and sat at a large round table. We read Walden, we read 18th Brumiare (good stuff that), we read short stories. We tried to read Melville's Pierre, I think some of us even finished it. I did not. Marx loved Sir Walter Scott, so we read Waverly and then we talked and talked about them. Some of us started calling the class "talking about talking about."

Maybe I will assign some Melville short stories next semester. I miss talking about them.

Both Melville and Marx are actually fun stylists, in a perverse and Romantic kind of a way. "Hegel remarks someplace, that all history, as it were, repeats itself. He neglects to mention, however, that it does so twice: the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce." (from memory - not sure if I quoted it correctly.)

And, as we learned that semester, Marx mis-quoted. The bit about History repeating itself comes from Heine, not Hegel. So when Marx quoted, or repeated, these words, he got them wrong. How farcical!

Posted by Red Ted at 08:29 AM | TrackBack

I need a new

I need a new comment software.

The one I am using, by blogextra, is limited to 400 characters and loads very slowly.

Any suggestions?

EDIT - Thanks for the suggestion, trying Halo Scan. It should be the comment tool on the Left.

EDIT 2 - Halo scan works, but not at the same time as blog extra. Commenting out blogextra to try Halo scan. Hope I don't lose my comments.

Edit 3 - adding some carriage returns to the template seems to have fixed it. I hate voodoo html. Now I get to figure out how to transfer my comments.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:17 AM | TrackBack

Andrew Jackson Day Today

Andrew Jackson Day

Today is the class on Andrew Jackson. I think I have a solid class put together. We did not get to the Market Revolution on Tuesday so I am folding that into my discussion of 1819 and the 1830s Bank War for today. I intend to stick with my previous narratives showing Jackson as an angry old man. Some people will tell you "Don't be a hater!" Andrew Jackson was a hater.

I know that I have not yet discussed last week's homework question, but I want to introduce this week's question now. I asked the kids if Andrew Jackson should be honored by being shown on the American currency? In the past this question has led to some pretty good discussions, I hope I get a good one today. Jackson was a controversial figure in his own time, he should remain controversial.

And so to finish class prep

Posted by Red Ted at 08:13 AM | TrackBack

October 29, 2003

Either I can not

Either I can not read, or a lot of other people can not read. I am not sure which scares me more.

Greg Easterbrook has tried once again to be controversial. This time he has tried to frame the American intervention in Iraq in such a way as to force the Bush 43 administration to either change their actions or change their rhetoric. It is a false premise - the misplaced rhetoric about the presence of WMD and an active WMD program was important but not everything during the run-up to war. Or, to be more precise, the causus belli was Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with the monitoring process. Evidence of WMD was presented to suggest that Hussein was hiding something when he refused to cooperate. Easterbrook, like many anti-war commentators, has merged the extra evidence with the causis belli. By doing so he loses the opportunity to make more valuable criticisms of the Bush adminstration's earlier decision to force a confrontation over WMD. Invading Iraq was probably a good thing to do, but was it the best way to advance the war on terror?

Back on topic (it is tired and I am late), Easterbrook argues that if the invasion was really about WMD, and we have not found any WMD, then we should leave. If the invasion was not really about WMD we can stay, but the Bush administration has to come clean about its "real" reasons for starting the war. He is attempting to use the threat of withdrawal as a bludgeon to force the Bush administration to confess to its ulterior motives. It is a clumsy bit of rhetoric.

Even clumsier are the editorial decisions made by Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh and some other pretty smart guys who read Easterbook as calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq. They then condemn that option.

Rhetorically, they are calling Easterbook's bluff. As they do so, they are missing the point he was trying to make. As I read Easterbrook, he was assuming that withdrawal was not an option, and thus that the only logical response if you did not want to withdraw is to 'fess up. It was a re-iteration of the "Bush lies" theme. By simply saying that withdrawal is a bad idea, Reynolds, Volokh and the cast of thousands are ignoring Easterbrook's real point. That might be good stump tactics, but it is a heck of a bad way to engage the issues.

Between this and the whole Kill Bill goof, I wonder if Easterbrook might want to get copy editing from the folks who do the Dick and Jane readers for kids. His ideas are better than his ability to express them, and now that he has stumbled a couple of times he has sharks circling every time he goes to post.

Ted K.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:24 PM | TrackBack

Thoughts on yesterday's class.

Thoughts on yesterday's class.

Class went pretty well, but I made one bad decision while planning it.

The story of the class was the story of the second generation of Americans, the people who came of age after the Constitution and, in Joyce Appleby's phrase, inherited the republic. I tried to set this up with political history, which let me lay out the first party system and national republicanism. This was not a bad decision. I then tried to use the Hamilton-Burr duel as the hook for the class. This was a bad decision. It ate a lot of time and was a poor proxy for the generational change. I ran out of time and only got partway through my intended outline. Ah well, at least when I tell of Jackson's duelling they will have some context.

After telling the duel, Joanne Freeman style, I laid out the First party system using an ideal type of republican (small r) and democratic (small d) political theory. I traced splits from patriots to madisonian federalists to the 2nd party system to the national republicans. Thursday I get to create the Democrats.

I took a few minutes to introduce Clay, Calhoun, and Webster.

I put most of the focus of the class on demographics, the sheer volume of young people in the Early Republic, and on the problems that a young society faced. I emphasized alcohol, working backwards from the standard Rorabaugh figure of 6 gallons of hard alcohol per adult per year, to show that the average man took about 8 drinks a day.

I then talked about westward expansion into the Northwest and Louisiana territories. This was pretty quick.

I laid out the counter-enlightenment. I was not happy with my explanation. I gave it as English anti-French revolution invoke revelation and cry down reason, arguing that enlightenment reason leads to deism and the guillotine. This is true, but I don't know what the kids understood of it. I then laid out American revival religion with capsule biographies of Lyman Beecher and Peter Cartwright.

Finally, in the last ten minutes or so, I argued that the Revlutionary movement towards emancipation was reversed by the dual forces of the counter-enlightenment, which discredited theories of inalienable human rights, and economic advantage, following on the cotton gin in 1793. People stopped manumitting and started selling slaves. I once again fumbled the details of the PA and NY gradual emancipation laws. Before I next cover this era I need to grab the full texts of those laws and also to review the narrative of Anglo-American Quaker lobbying against slavery and the slave trade at the end of the eighteenth century.

I had really wanted to lay out the early market revolution, including Rhode Island thread spinning, the Lancaster Pike, the Erie Canal, and the rise of the seaport cities. I never got there. I had also wanted to lay out Republican Motherhood, which I intended to position as an attempt to govern and control the horde of young people by educating them in republican and moral values.

All in all this was a lot of background and biographies and not a lot of narrative or analysis. Thursday is Andrew Jackson day. I know I want to work up Jackson's personality, the creation of the two party system, nullification, and herrenvolk democracy. I should be able to get the market revolution in as part of a discussion of the bank war. That will mean cutting back on Indian removal. I do not know how to get Republican motherhood in, unless I do a riff on Jackson's mother. I might do that, place her in the context of republican motherhood. That will swing my focus early again.

I like the fun of adjusting the classes to what we have just covered during the semester, but it adds a different sort of stress to my week.

And so to lunch.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:23 PM | TrackBack

Carnival of the Vanities

Carnival of the Vanities is up at bloggerrabbit. It is a long one, with some good stuff.

I submitted my thing on Meatloaf lyrics and compulsive honesty. I liked Blogger Rabbit's own little funny on dogs.

Next week it will be at Wizbang. I wonder if I will write anything I will want to brag on.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:03 PM | TrackBack

My "Why am I

My "Why am I not sleepy?" thought

I am done working for the night, done reading and discarding weeks of old magazines, done puttering around on blogs, it is late, I am tired, and yet I am still not sleepy.

So, I will add one brief thought and then go lie down and see if I will sleep or if I will have palpitations.(1)

Looking over my blog and comparing it to other blogs, I noticed that many of my posts are quite long. The thing I sent to the Carnival of the Vanities was three pages single spaced, a little over 1500 words. It took me about an hour to write and edit, in part because I had been chewing on some of the ideas for a while and I wrote it up quickly. 1500 words is a magazine article.

If I were shorter, would people read more?

If I am going to put time into crafting that many words, should I try to shop some of these pieces around? In-flight magazines pay a dollar a word for interesting popular history and book reviews.

And so to bed.

(1) These palpitations are not dangerous. I take a niacin variant for my cholesterol. Sometimes I can feel my heart beat, especially if I am lying down and tired but not sleepy. That is all a palpitation is, feeling your heart beat. I am out of shape these days, so the bumps are about once a second and not too strong. When I was running a lot my resting heartrate was 40/minute, very strong, and if I got palpitations I could feel my whole body pulse and lift off the sheets every second and a half. That was not so good, but that does not happen any more.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:48 AM | TrackBack

I miss things when

I miss things when I am tired.

Just below you can find me fisking Greg Easterbrook, Eugene Volokh, and Glen Reynolds for systematically mis-communicationg with each other. On further review, what I may be seeing there is a case where underlying assumptions lead two people to read the same document to two very different effects. If, as Easterbrook seems to, you believe that the whole business about WMD was a lie and a smokescreen, then Easterbrook's blog is an attempt to bluster away the smokescreen. If, as Volokh and Reynolds seem to believe, the WMD business was a good faith depiction of our knowledge of Iraq, then Easterbrook's blog is a call for unconditional withdrawal from Iraq.

If I had thought of this last night, while tiredly waiting for the loaf of bread to finish baking so I could go to sleep, I would have written something very different.

In personal news, I just finished revising chapter three, it looks very good, and I will use it as my writing sample in the job applications that are going out later this afternoon.

I want to blog about the Boykin speeches, extending an argument I started with Brian at Junkyardblog, but that is chapter two stuff and I want to bash through chapter four one more time before I go back to church and state in the Early Republic.

And so to fine tune job letters.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:59 AM | TrackBack

I'll Drink to That!

I'll Drink to That!

As part of my discussion about alcohol in the Early American Republic I explained toasting and dram drinking. My students had encountered dram taking before; Ben Franklin condemns the practice in his Autobiography. They had encountered toasting as we discussed the American Revolution; I mentioned it briefly in class and the textbook commented on it as well. What was different in the EAR was that the toasts and drams were whiskey and not beer or cider.

I call toasting the drinking game of the nineteenth century. It started in the eighteenth century and continued to be popular into the early twentieth century, but it was mostly an antebellum practice. It started as a political ritual, but it quickly became a celebration of masculinity. If you ever watch the movie Sergeant York, you will see Alvin York and his buddies toasting during their three-day bender.

Basically, toasting involves going around the table, having each person propose a toast, and everyone drinking agreement to the sentiment. You fill the glasses. The first person proclaims a toast: "The Union, may it ever be preserved!" All drink. The glasses are refilled. The second person proclaims a toast: "The ladies, may they ever be beautiful!" All drink. The glasses are refilled. And so it goes, around the table or around the room. That first example is a Jackson quote, the second is something you might hear in a tavern.

If you wanted to get drunk, you tossed off a full drink for each toast. If you were pacing yourself, as for example when Patriot assemblies gathered to drink 92 toasts in memory the Massachusetts Legislature's 92-14 vote not to take back its circular letter condemning the trade acts, you probably wanted to barely sip at each one. For important events, say the Philadelphia reception for Citizen Genet, the toasts were written out ahead of time. If people were just sitting around, the toasts were more impromptu.

Toasting made a good nineteenth-century drinking game because every person had a moment in which they could speak in public, display their manliness, and express themselves in words. The toasts had to be original, or at least original to the evening. Casual drinkers made them up as they went along. Proposing a toast was a risky moment - you try standing up and phrasing a strong sentiment while drunk - but that made it a rewarding moment as well. More, a "man" controlled his alcohol, and it could be hard to give a good toast after a few rounds had gone by. Similarly, "To Anacreon in Heaven" - the drinking song whose tune was stolen for the "Star Spangled Banner" - was a good drinking song because it was so hard to sing.

Toasting also produced a high level of peer pressure. If you refused to toast with someone you were repudiating the sentiments of their toast. Toasting first grew popular as a political ritual, and many toasts were patriotic in nature. If the bar starts toasting to "America, home of the free," you will feel some pressure to drink with them. Having once joined in the toasting, it was hard to stop. For this reason toasting was a particular target of temperance advocates. As they saw it, toasting bastardized patriotism and turned it into drunken debauchery.

Of course, the same folks who liked to toast were the same folks who liked to have noisy parades and shoot off cannon on the 4th of July while the Temperance folks were all sitting in church listening to sermons. Popular culture was contested in the Early American Republic, and toasting was an important ritual of social manliness.

edit - grammar and clarity.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:22 AM | TrackBack

October 28, 2003

Non-Bush approaches to the

Non-Bush approaches to the War on Terror.

Sebastian Holsclaw
asks for suggestions for a Democratic party policy towards the war on Terror. I got into the comment discussion there and wanted to copy my main points over here for my own reference. Off the top of my head, this is what I suggested.

The United States should shift from its current binary notion of terror=bad, non-terro= good to a policy based on human rights, the rule of law, and national self-interest. The current administration's approach forces us to either choose between ideological purity coupled with some foul policy partners or a more practical and humane set of allies and enemies at the cost of creating a clear division between national rhetoric and national policy. Opening up a gap between claimed ideals and practical actions is always a bad idea.

As it is I worry that the Bush administration has encouraged Iran and North Korea to speed up their nuclear weapons research, has forfeited our authority to comment on the civil war in Chechnya, and is otherwise pursuing a worldwide foreign policy based entirely on clever sound bites designed for domestic consumption.

Instead what would a foreign policy look like if we based it on:
1, human rights
2, rule of law
3, continue Bush's notion of extending the idea of active pursuit to include using military means to attack harbors and safe havens for international terrorists
4, do a better job with intelligence gathering.

In effect this would be a realist/liberal foreign policy approach. Off the top of my head this would lead to the following policy suggestions:

I, follow through in Iraq. this means 1, making sure we do not _look_ like an imperial power; 2, helping Iraq transition from a rule of cronyism to a rule of law; 3, quickly bringing Iraqis back into basic governance - police, military, etc.; 4, giving up some measure of control over this process to international agencies (even if they are less effective at 2 and 3) so as to avoid creating an imperial image.

II. Stop trying to fund foreign policy through unfunded debt. That was Johnson's mistake in Vietnam and it hurts to see Bush repeating most of Johnson's follies.

III, Resume the search for Bin Laden. If this means getting troops out of Iraq to do the work, then either increase the US military or turn over control in Iraq to other countries (but not Turkey - see I.1)

IV, Remember to do some basic cost-benefit analysis in anti-terrorism prevention. Don't spend billions to reduce a low-risk threat before spending millions to reduce a high-risk threat. Don't be afraid to educate rather than just scaring people.

V, Continue the process of encouraging democratic politics, free speech, and economic activity in the Middle East and the rest of the Third World. Do this not with sabre-rattling rhetoric or military intervention but with cultural tools such as Radio Free Iran (or whatever they call it), the paunch corps, and the outreach efforts made over the last couple of years by the American muslim community.

VI, Focus this cultural effort on the schwerpunkt (spelling) of the middle east - Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in that order. Any change that does not effect the most populous and richest nations is bound to be epiphenomenal. Wolfowitz et al are trying to reach these countries via the domino effect and contagious liberty. The Iraq strategy might work, but I would use the cultural press described in V instead.

VII, As part of the full court press, adjust American farm policy, American policy towards Kyoto-style environmental talks, and American influence over international lenders to improve the basic economies of the developing world, especially the muslim parts of the developing world.

VIII, Try to reduce tensions in Israel. I would suggest 1, supporting the Israeli protective fence; 2, insisting that the fence run along the minimal border enclosing the 1967 line plus the densely populated suburbs; 3, insisting that Israel repudiate and abandon the aggressive settlements on the West bank, including putting up the money to buy out relocate all West Bank settlers outside the protective fence; 4, pressing the Palestinian authority to move to greater democracy and open-ness; 5, extending economic aid to Palestine, through small business loans administered outside the Palestinian authority if need be; 6, insisting that both Israel and Palestine commit themselves to full adherance to human rights and the rule of law, preventing Israel from continuing on their current path toward apartheid.

And so to do the dishes.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:34 AM | TrackBack

What is he worth?

What is he worth?

Baron de Montlezun, Voyage fait dans les annees 1816 et 1817, (Paris: Gid Fils, 1818) p 8

"Dans ce pays plus qu'en aucun autre, l'estime se mesure sur la fortune. Le talent est foulé aux pieds. Combien vaut ce homme? dit-on: How much is he worth?". The italics and English are his.

Translated, he says "In this country more than in any other, status comes from wealth. Talent is trampled underfoot, `How much is he worth?' they ask instead." Montelzun inserted these words in his travel narrative while describing his first arrival in the United States; he landed at Norfolk, Virginia in 1816.

I am using these words as the opening phrase for today's class on the early nineteenth century. It will be a strange class - on Thursday as I went to put the class together I realized that I had no memory of what I had originally intended to do today. I had to make up a new class based on that quote from the class reader, on the textbook chapter I had assigned for today, and on the things we had left out of our discussion on the Early Republic.

I will be focusing on the second generation, and will touch on Hamilton's duel, the cotton gin, the Erie Canal, Cane Ridge, mobile populations, and the mental situation of the people who grew up in a republic. Joyce Appleby did an interesting prosopography of this generation a few years ago; I doubt that I will lean on it much.

Improvisatory teaching is a lot of fun, I just hope I can make it worthwhile for the kids. (I do have 2 pages of notes, I just don't have a good narrative for the day yet.)

And so to prep

Posted by Red Ted at 07:36 AM | TrackBack

October 27, 2003

Scriptural Literalism Allen Brill

Scriptural Literalism

Allen Brill has another very good essay in Open Source politics about the history of Scriptural Interpretation and why it matters to the world today.

He has elsewhere commented on the process of proof-texting, which in its most outrageous forms assumes that the Bible is a single, coherent whole. If it is, if every verse is equally Divinely inspired, the we can use any verse anywhere to interpret any other verse anywhere, and if we can find any verse or verse snippet anywhere that supports our position of the moment, we can claim Biblical sanction for our opinions.

I think this approach is nonsense. I am a historicist, which is odd because my current research is on the ancestors of today's evangelicals. Speaking of which, I need to get back to editing.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:03 AM | TrackBack

Cable 2 Ted 0

Cable 2 Ted 0

I dug farther into my walls over the weekend. The good news is that the fish tape was caught on something in the middle of the living room wall. The bad news is that even with a larger hole to work with I could not get either a fish tape or the cable itself to feed through the gap in a sill, through the space between the lathe and the exterior boards, and then through the gap in the sill at the other end of the wall cavity. We are not a true balloon frame, and so running cable is not as easy as I want it to be.

I now have a half-removed baseboard in the office and we still have ethernet cable running all over the upstairs. I convinced J that it was best to call it quits. We are either going to call in the cable company and have them do it or, and we will try this first, we will hire the handy neighbor to do it for us. Those who can, do. Those who can not, hire it done.

I feel like a yuppie, only poorer and not as well dressed.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:31 AM | TrackBack

The Knee Test. I

The Knee Test.

I refer to the "knee test" in my rant on the politics of personal appearance but do not define the term.

People come in all shapes and sizes. Some shapes and sizes are unhealthy for the wearerl; the most common unhealthy shapes are obese and emaciated. The knee test measures for emaciation. Physical appearance is linked to self-esteem, and some people believe that you can never be too thin. Many college women obsess about their appearance and some people (I almost said some women, but a few men have similar body issues) try to control their body shape as a proxy for controlling the rest of their lives. Whenever I have a skinny student, male or female, I try to give them the "knee test." Quite simply, your knees and elbows should be SMALLER than your arms and legs. If someone's limbs go out as they move from muscle to bone, calf to knee to thigh, then they are skinny enough that I will talk to them and see if I need to call University health services on their behalf.

In this picture of Ann Coulter you can clearly see that her knee is wider than her calf or lower thigh. This is a warning sign. It is possible to be that thin and still be mentally and physically healthy - look at the top marathoners like Tegla Laroupe - but it is also possible to be that thin because of an eating disorder or a medical crisis.

For contrast, see this picture of Twiddlybits modeling her "assalicious pants." Her knees are just a little narrower than her calves and thighs. And, may I add, the pants look good on her.

Edit, added the contrast pictures, edited text for clarity.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:38 AM | TrackBack

October 26, 2003

Now this rocks !

Now this rocks !

I stumbled across Bloggus Caesari, a web log written by Julius Caesar (as channeled through an amateur historian in LA.)

I have no idea which of my little categories to put this one in. I dropped it in with the academics for the moment since I do not have a set of war blogs on the left.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:19 AM | TrackBack

Accidental Roses I am

Accidental Roses

I am often amused at the way that unexpected items become important to us. For example, consider the roses around our house. Before July I rarely thought about roses, and when I did I generally did not care for them. They had their place - we knew a nice rosarian in Virginia and for a while I grew a miniature yellow rose on our kitchen window sill, but roses were something that other people grew.

The new house has rose bushes around it. There are five of them, two red and three in shades of pink and peach. There are also some gaps in the front landscaping where azaleas once stood. I have become obsessed with finding the right two roses to add to that spot. Just a few months of caring for roses, reading about roses, and talking to rose people has gotten me hooked on a new gardening bug. Now that we have a house that has roses, I will continue to add roses to the house. (Current thoughts are to add a Dream Yellow and a Dream Red to the front of the porch and grow an Iceberg up the side railing of the porch. If I could fit yellow miniature roses into the garden, I would. I might still put a tiny rose in a pot on the porch.)

The story of the roses illustrates two of the core concepts behind the history discipline, concepts that Annie from The Same River Twice commented on in an email: Contingency and Path Dependency. She had previously encountered path dependency in the Matrix movies, movies that I have still not yet watched. These are important ideas and should be more widely spread and more clearly spread. While I have not seen the Matrix movies, I do read Eric Flint's science fiction, and one of the reasons I like his work is that he is very aware of contingency, path dependency, and change over time. Of course, he was trained as a historian before following his ideals and going into labor organizing, which he did for years before switching to writing science fiction full time.

I want to blog on the core historical concepts, if only to get the ideas clearly phrased so that I can add them to my syllabus for next semester. I will briefly explain Contingency, Path Dependency, Change over Time, and Agency.

Contingency is one of those simple ideas that we never think about. It is a philosophical truism that at any moment we could do one of many things. You could stand up and start singing the Marseilles, or you could keep reading this, or you could move away. One of these is highly unlikely, two are fairly likely. Historians try to find contingent moments, moments where either influential individuals or society as a whole had two very different choices, both of which were fairly likely, and picked one of them. By looking at that decision moment we learn more about the universal human condition as we decide, more about the particular people and culture who were making that decision, and we gain insights into nuances and details of that particular decision.

Thus Eric Foner argues that Reconstruction, that period between 1865 and 1877 when the United States was trying to bring seceded states back into the union, white southerners into political society, and freed blacks into citizenship, was a contingent moment when the nation might have created a biracial society based on equal rights and citizenship. We failed, but the promises of reconstruction resonated down the years and shaped both the turn of the century movement towards legalized segregation and the long-continued black movement against legal and social repression.

Path Dependency is another simple idea. Once we start doing one activity or set of activities, it can be hard to change to doing another set. We use path dependency any time we pick one design element or one scheduling element and then work around it. So, once I made the contingent decision to keep the roses, I went onto a path that was dependent on landscaping around roses. For a less banal example, consider the British Navy's decision to switch from coal to oil at the start of the twentieth century. From then on they had less need for convenient coaling stations located all around the world, a need that had caused all the European naval powers to colonize or seize bits of land; they had a large need for continued secure access to oil fields and immediately maintained a much larger presence in Persia (now Iran). Once started down the oil path, their foreign policy needs, ship design requirements, staffing requirements and, operational philosophies all had to adjust to the new technology.

Contingent moments and path dependency combine to create Change over Time, the third of the big ideas. People change, institutions change, the physical world changes, the ways we understand the world change. Changes come from human decisions, often multiple human decisions, often in feedback loops where one person's contingent moment creates a path that shapes the choices available to another person. For convenience we sometimes refer to waves of similar decisions as movements, trends, or revolutions. The Industrial Revolution was the result of a few people coming up with technological innovations (remember that organizing a work force is itself a technology, just like a clever machine is a technology), innovations spurring innovations, the new systems and new machines altering other people's conception of time, labor, and self-worth. The whole process can be described on a macro level with big words like industrialization, proletarianization, and embourgeoisment. It can also be described on a micro level through case studies, individual narratives, or the glimpses into workers lives afforded by Parliamentary commissions.

This brings us to the final big idea, an idea that many undergraduates struggle with: agency. Agency is historians' jargon for who makes the decisions that the historian will be studying. We can tell the tale of industrialization from the perspective of Arkwright and the factory owners, emphasizing their contingent decisions and telling the tale of the way that industrialists responded to and shaped their society. We can cover the same years from the perspectives of the workers, emphasizing their decision to move from field to factory labor, their attempt to control their work time and work place, the communities they built in factory villages, and so on. Here the workers have agency; we look at their contingent decisions. Agency is in part a narrative decision, in part an evaluation of what "really mattered" in a particular time and moment. As a demonstrative exercise I sometimes go through a simple event, usually a child being born, and show the students how many possible narratives might include that event as crucial evidence: the mother's biography, the father's biography, the child's biography, the story of medical care, the story of demographic trends, the story of migration and settlement, and so on.

To return to my story about the roses in front of my house, I give myself agency as I tell the story - I am the person discovering the plants, learning how to care for them, and making the decision to buy more. I do not have total control over these decisions, I had to negotiate all of them with J, but as I told the story at the top of this long rambling rant the narrative was about my adapting to my new surroundings. For change over time, well the front of the house has already changed dramatically over the last five years as the old owner died, the house went through estate, the previous owner bought it and landscaped the front, and I then bought it and started making my own changes. The porch remains much the same, but the decorations have changed and the uses we find for the space have changed.

But maybe I want different roses. There are not a lot of 3 to 4 foot tall yellow roses.

And so it goes.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:11 AM | TrackBack

October 25, 2003

John Lewis writes a

John Lewis writes a strong editorial for the Boston Globe: / News / Boston Globe / Editorial / Opinion / Op-ed / At a crossroads on gay unions.

Lewis makes two good points: that there is a distinction between the religious liberty to conduct or refuse to conduct a marriage ritual for two individuals and the human right to get married, a civil right. He places this conflict within the context of the civil rights movement, comparing current laws against gay marriage with earlier laws against interracial marriage. "But our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being Americans."

Strong stuff, and he seems to be joining in a Democratic/Liberal attempt to turn Republican/social conservative gay bashing into a debate about human rights, civil rights, and the meaning of citizenship. See, for example, what Counterspin has been saying.

It is hard to defend abstract rights against cheap shot slurs. Consider the way that people have used flag burning to frame politicians as anti-American when they defended free speech rights. I remember a few years back John Warner of Virginia was cheap shotted as anti-patriotic for refusing to vote for some silly flag-icon law. He responded with a wonderful essay explaining the nature of basic liberties and tying his defense of those liberties to his service as a Marine in Vietnam. He was still chickenhawked, although he did win that election.

John Lewis is very aware that it takes time to convince people that abstract rights are more important than inherited prejudices. I hope that Counterspin et al are able to turn the debate to free speech and the nature of American citizenship. We are overdue for a debate on that. I just dearly hope that the debate comes to the right conclusions.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:59 AM | TrackBack

Happy Birthday to J

Happy Birthday to J

Happy Birthday to J
Happy Birthdya to J
Happy Birthday on Yesterday
Happy Birthday to J

Yesterday was J's birthday. To celebrate we went out to dinner at a French restaurant near us. It was fun, despite the noise, and we held hands throughout dinner. I want to make a couple of notes about the food, because it gave me ideas for my cooking.

J had roast venison and duck sausages in a port wine sauce. The venison was good, the sauce was good, the sausages were spectacular. I have no idea what was in them or how they got that intense combination of flavors, but they rocked. I had a tuna steak au poivre. I have previously used tuna for recipes that call for rare beefsteak and gotten some good results. I had not thought to try tuna with a poivre sauce, but the two went together well, and even better when you added a bit of the watercress garnish to the bite. I like food where the bits together taste better than bites of all the separate bits. This restaurant had the knack of combining flavors so that the end result was ver' ver' nice.

For dessert I had an apple tart - I make a better pie crust, they had a nice filling and some very nice burnt sugar ice cream. Here having a full bite of ice cream and a full bite of tart let the burnt sugar taste dominate the mouth. But, a bite of apple tart with just a little of the ice cream, or a bite of ice cream followed by a bite of tarte flavored with the recent memory of the ice cream, that was spectacular. J had their chocolate sampler - a little pecan chocolate tarte, a chocolate mousse tort, and some very rich ice cream. Hers was too rich for me, especially the ice cream, but I liked the melted French chocolate in the tarte.

I have been teased in the past for "praying while I eat." If I take a bite of something really good I close my eyes so that I can pay attention to the food - much like many people close their eyes when they kiss. I spent a lot of dinner with my eyes closed.

Of course, between this dinner, wednesday's dinner, and a couple of my lunches this week I am well over my fat budget. I need to eat lean for several days and let my body recover. But it was worth it. J had a good birthday.

And back to typing in comments.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:14 AM | TrackBack

October 24, 2003

Updated Blogroll I updated

Updated Blogroll

I updated my blogroll. So far I have found a couple of automated programs to take care of blogrolls for me, especially blogmatrix and blogrolling. I do not care for either of them. Blogmatrix is clunky - I use it to read blogs but do not want to imbed it. Blogrolling is pretty spiffy, and if I ever shell out the $20 for the full version I will use it. But, I like to sort my links and their free version jumbles it all together.

I made a new link category, Academical Villagers, for blogs that have a more academic background and focus. Several of the Law, Politics and Punditry blogs are also written by professors - I decided which went where based on whether they tended to write about the concerns of their discipline and teaching, or about contemporary politics and culture. We all write about our jobs, about the larger world, and about our private lives - I am simply sorting by what, based on what I read, they spend more of their time on.

I also messed with style sheets to try to make the blogsnob link look more like the rest of the page. I have not used them before. I might see if I can get the site to show in Garamond, my preferred font, for those folks who have the font installed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:36 AM | TrackBack

Was it a fair

Was it a fair paraphrase?

Source for the Jefferson paraphrase: "A free people in arms, fighting in defense of their liberty, are superior to any army in Europe."

Some of the students asked about this yesterday, and last night when I could not sleep (got to bed at 1:30 or so) I went and finally dug it up. It was not in a Jefferson letter, which is why I could not find it earlier. Instead it appears that I had conflated sections of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Jefferson's First and Eighth Annual Messages, and the letters. The relevant bits are:

"That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided , as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power." VA Declaration of Rights, June 12, 1776, Article 13.

"No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands]" - Draft Constitution for Virginia, June 1776.

After explaining why he is cutting the standing army, "For defence against invasion [the regular army] is as nothing; nor is it conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace for that purpose. Uncertain as we must ever be of the particular point in our circumference where an enemy may choose to invade us, the only force which can be ready at every point and competent to oppose them, is the body of neighboring citizens as formed into a militia. On these, collected from the parts most convenient, in numbers proportioned to the invading foe, it is best to rely, not only to meet the first attack, but if it threatens to be permanent, to maintain the defence until regulars may be engaged to relieve them." Jefferson, First Annual Message, Dec 8, 1801.

"Considering the extraordinary character of the times in which we live, our attention should unremittingly be fixed on the safety of our country. For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. It is, therefore, incumbent on us, at every meeting, to revise the condition of the militia, and to ask ourselves if it is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our territories exposed to invasion. Some of the States have paid a laudable attention to this object; but every degree of neglect is to be found among others." 8th Annual Message, Nov 8, 1808.

"Our present enemy will have the sea to herself, while we shall be equally predominant on land, and shall strip her of all her possessions on this continent. ... The partisans of England here have endeavored much to goad us into the folly of choosing the ocean instead of the land, for the theatre of war. That would be to meet their strength with our weakness, instead of their weakness with our strength. ... Some have apprehended that we shall be overwhelmed by the new improvements of war, which have not yet reached us. But the British possess them very imperfectly, ... We have nothing to fear from their armies." TJ to Thaddeus Kosciusko, June 28, 1812

"We shall indeed survive the conflict. Breeders enough will remain to carry on population. We shall retain or country, and rapid advances in the art of war will soon enable us to beat our enemy, and probably drive him from the continent. We have men enough, and I am in hopes the present session of Congress will provide the means of commanding their services. ... But although we feel, we hsall not flinch. We must consider now, as in the revolutionary war, that although the evils of resistance are great, those of submission would be greater." TJ to William Short, Nov 28, 1814

You decide

Posted by Red Ted at 09:54 AM | TrackBack

Twenty Movies in ten

Twenty Movies in ten minutes.

Via Begging to Differ I find that many people are following Roger Simon's dare and are making lists of twenty movies. Simon's list excluded the last 20 years, the others are filling in at the end.

A quick list of great movies I have seen.

Birth of a Nation - not a nice movie, but they do not have to be nice to be great.
Triumph of the Will
Seven Samurai
Ran - yes, that is two from Kurosawa.

Razor's Edge - oddly enough I liked Bill Murray's version better than the smoother more accurate Tyrone Power version.
Breaking Away
The Apostle
Last Orders
City Lights

Star Wars: A New Hope (original print, no having Greedo shoot first) - camp but influential and fun.
The Best Years of our Lives
From Here to Eternity

and here I run dry. It appears that I am not much of a movie person. I certainly can not come up with twenty movies from the last twenty years that I would praise, even if I go back to the beginning it is hard.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:18 AM | TrackBack

The Friday Five is

The Friday Five is on hiatus this week.

So, I will ask a Friday Five myself. Someone has to step up, it might as well be me. I spent the morning working on the house.

1, What sort of a structure do you live in? If it is an apartment, describe the apartment building.

2, When was the building constructed?

3, What have you done to make the space suit you?

4, How long have you been living there?

5, How long do you intend to keep living there?

My comments are short, so I suggest answering on your own blog and simply commenting this with a link to your blog.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:53 AM | TrackBack

October 23, 2003

Cable 1, Ted 0

Cable 1, Ted 0

We have cable for cable TV and cable modems in two of the three bedrooms, but not in the bedroom that we use as the office.

When the cable guy came to the house in August I could have gotten him to run the cable, he would have charged about $35 and although he would have wanted to come in through the outside wall I might have been able to get him to pull it up an interior wall. But I was cheap, and did not realize until too late that he would have pulled interior cabling.

I decided to do it myself.

Earlier today, I finally tried to do it. I had previously figured out which of the wall cavities to use, gotten a fish tape, and otherwise prepared myself.

I decided that I would rather get the fish tape through the broad gap between the ground floor floorboards and the basement wall than through the right spot in the upstairs plaster, drilled a hole in the bedroom wall, and started feeding the fish tape.

Maybe it got down, maybe it did not. I was alone and could not tell. I do know I fed a lot of tape into the wall and could not snag it at the bottom. So, I tried turning the tape over so it would coil towards the outside of the house and perhaps hit the basement gap correctly. Nope, no dice. I went to pull it out again to see how far I had gotten it, and it has snagged.

I have the very bad feeling that the tape is caught on the power line that runs around the baseboards in the office. I stopped messing with it tonight. I will grab my handyman neighbor tomorrow and ask for help, call my brother the theatrical electricion (works in a theater, not overly emotional), flip the appropriate circuit breaker, and pull the baseboard off. Feh. This was supposed to be easy.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:28 AM | TrackBack

Mr. Madison's War. Teaching

Mr. Madison's War.

Teaching Recap.

I stuck pretty much to the notes, but the weight of the class was once again swung towards the early part of the outline.

I did indeed set up the class as the United States struggling to retain sovereignty in a world at war, emphasized the total war between England and France, and argued that the law of nations says that a nation must do whatever it needs to do in order to survive, and for Britain and France this meant that they had to make their foreign policy decisions about neutral countries on purely pragmatic grounds involving self interest and the war.

From there I gave them a standard diplomatic/political history - we have not had diplomatic history before. We got the Jay Treaty, the election of 1796, the French privateers, XYZ, (forgot if the navy was mobilized before or after XYZ), Quasi-War with France, Hamilton gets caught by Adams, Adams and the theory of balance between rich and poor, Adams makes peace, Hamilton splits Federalists, Election of 1800, Hamilton pick Jefferson over Burr, Peace of Amiens, Louisiana Purchase, War again, Orders in Council of 1805 ending broken voyages, Impressment again, Embargo, end of Embargo.

That took about 50 minutes, leaving me half an hour for the rest. We spent a chunk of that time talking about the homework provocation. The morning class was pretty dead. The afternoon class was livelier, if only because a couple of the kids had gotten curious and tried to find the quote. They could not find it - it was my paraphrase of a Jefferson line.

Both classes brought forward the ideas that a free people are more likely to go to arms, that the American Revolution had only been won by professional soldiers, French and American, that there is a difference between fighting and continuing a resistance.

I then brought it forward, and asked what the founders' opinion of the current gun control debate might be. They had little to say, so I tried to provoke them. I made the point, loosely in the morning and explicitly in the afternoon, that the founders would have been willing to accept a law that urged people to own assault rifles and banned all hand guns. That got the afternoon folks going, and they quickly pointed out that the state militias evolved into the national guard, and that the state militias had all used armories rather than expecting everyone to show up with a Brown Bess. (I have not refreshed myself on the early national militia, as I recall from the militia laws of VA and PA, sometimes the law said show up with your gun, sometimes the law said that the state would provide guns for the militia, and as time passed the second approach was more and more common.) Brown Bess was the assault rifle of the eighteenth century: optimized for rapid fire military use of up to three shots per minute, equipped with a bayonet, and heavy so you could use it as a hand-to-hand weapon. I made a stronger provocation in the afternoon than in the morning, in both I urged them to use their knowledge of the Revolution and the War of 1812 to parse and test any modern argument made about gun laws, gun restrictions and the like. I had intended to bring up Chechnya and perhaps Afghanistan in class, but forgot to.

An aside, I may actually be more pro-gun than many of my kids. And I do not want one in the house. What I do intend, J permitting, is once the kids are old enough to know what they are doing we will take the NRA or equivalent gun safety class and the kids will learn how to shoot rifles at targets. I agree with the folks who argue that the way to keep kids safe around guns is to let them know what they are, how to use them, and how not to use them.

We took the last few minutes to hit the War of 1812 very quickly. I gave them John Stagg's interpretation about Madison and Canada. I covered the war in four minutes: Canada invasion repelled, US navy at sea, New York militia refusing to fight, Naval forces on the lakes preventing invasion, Militia running in front of Washington and the capital burned, Militia under Harrison fighting Indians in the Northwest, Militia under Jackson fighting Indians in the Southwest, Militia under Jackson being more scared of AJ than they were of the British and winning a victory. I told them they would get more Jackson next week, which they will. I like my Jackson lecture.

I think this class went fairly well. I will have to chase down that TJ letter and check the original quote. As I recall, he hinted at the sentiment that I put forward clearly.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:10 AM | TrackBack

Out, OUT damn thought

Out, OUT damn thought

I need to write this down to get it out of my head. Inspired by last night's performances, if I am ever in a situation to affect a core curriculum decision I will argue for the addition of "personal performance." Just as many cores have a "writing across the curricculuum" requirement where students must take a writing intensive course, preferably within their own discipline, in order to perfect their written communication skills, I would also require that they take a course on non-written communication.

This is something that would work best as a Chinese menu item, like a diversity requirement. You could take acting, any acting class, or musical performance, or public speaking, or we could put together an interdisciplinary class on personal communication where students would learn how to make, and how not to make, a Powerpoint presentation, how to speak to an audience, how to trim and edit a spoken presentation, how to use body language to convey interest and emotion, and so on. I would have students read poems, read speeches, create presentations, perform skits and otherwise get good at presenting ideas without mumbling or rambling.

Phew, it is gone. Now I can get back to work. I will come back to this idea.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:08 AM | TrackBack

Follow up on public

Follow up on public speaking

I checked with the morning section to see how many of them had ever done public speaking or personal performance. About a third of them had. Several had taken public speaking in high school, one was taking it this semester, many had been in plays or in small group musical performances.

When writing the syllabus I had thought about assigning Daniel Webster's Second Reply to Hayne and spending a class to have the students read it out loud. I decided it was a bad use of time, and that Webster was a little long-winded. Instead I gave them something else for the 1830s and some Abraham Lincoln speeches to read.

What I will do, when we get to Lincoln, is require them to read at least one of the speeches out loud, preferably Gettysburg or the Second Inaugural. They can talk to their room-mates, their cat, their dog, or the picture on the wall, but they will have to read it out loud and in a projecting voice. I find that when I read the Gettysburg Address out loud it hits me hard; I often choke up. When I read it silently, not even moving my lips, it is just words.

Trust me. Hit the link and read it out loud. The folks in the next cubicle won't mind much.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:46 AM | TrackBack

Free Ships make Free

Free Ships make Free Goods

Free Ships make Free Goods? Or Jefferson, Worms, and Embargo?

Today I am wrapping up the early republic, and I am a little behind. I know that I have to get through the War of 1812 by the end of the class, and I know I want to talk about the trade troubles, and I know I need to cover the late 1790s because that is where interposition/nullification first gets articulated. But, I am still not entirely sure how I will get there.

Following Elkins & McKitrick I will organize class around the way that the US was not taken seriously by European powers and had to constantly struggle to keep from having its sovereignty ignored by the participants in the world war of 1791-1814.

And I will do this while tired. Last night we went to a my brother-in-law's gig. He had gotten a travelling fellowship for last summer, and last night he went out to dinner with the sponsors, thirty of their closes friends, selected deans and professors, his girlfriend, and us. After a nice (but overly rich) dinner the other fellowship person talked for 50 minutes (using the word "articulated" incorrectly over 23 times - I counted) BiL talked for about 12 minutes about industrial spaces along the seafront of the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. It was good stuff - but we did not get home till after 10:00, to sleep until near 11:00, and the alarm went off at 6:00 as usual.

BiL is a good photographer. I liked a lot of his images, especially images showing the way that space was shared - shipyards, fishing boats, and people playing in the surf all within a quarter mile of seafront. European space is heavily layered, the other guy talked about walls as palimpests where one use is scraped off and another use made, but with traces of the former use still left behind. Just as you will find archways, filled in with brick, with a door and a window, BiL found harbours that had layers of use placed on top of one another. I find change over time fascinating. Then again, I am a historian and that is what I do.

The whole experience last night reminded me of the streetcar suburb that we live in - built in the 1920s with lots of bungalows all alike, and ever since then the houses have been modified and altered, the roads have been modified and altered, the people have passed through generations, and yet still the traces of all the earlier uses remain around us, shaping our space and informing our decisions.

I do think that when I talk about Sovereignty later today I will keep in mind the layers of decision, precedent and otherwise, and that I will emphasize some level of path dependency on the students. People made one set of decisions, and that led to others, and yet to others.

And, I get to talk about John Adams. Adams was fat, fussy, and vain - he was also remarkably balanced.

And so to finish prepping class

Posted by Red Ted at 09:10 AM | TrackBack

October 22, 2003

Homework: Respond to the


Respond to the following statement: "A free people in arms, fighting in defense of their liberty, are superior to any army in Europe."

This is a paraphrase of a statement Thomas Jefferson made around 1810. The students are reading about the War of 1812 this week, while as I wrote the syllabus I was thinking about Charleton Heston and the gun lobby.

Answer posted Wednesday Oct 29.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:56 AM | TrackBack

Homework answer How did

Homework answer

How did the presence of slavery in the colonies affect the American Revolution.

I was looking for a coherent essay that hit some or all of the following points.

1, Presence of real slavery in the colonies, especially in Virginia, sharpened American colonists' thought about what it meant to be subservient to another. I had spent a lot of time in class arguing that because of slavery many Virginians had an essentially binary notion of freedom: you were free (and white and male) or you were a slave (and black). For the crown to make decisions for free white Virginia males without consulting them, was to reduce them to the status of slaves. They read George Washington to Brian Fairfax, 1774, where GW uses this rhetoric and we had done a close reading of the letter in class.

2, Lord Dunmore offered freedom to any slaves who would leave their masters and join the British in 1775. His action was disowned by his superiors, but it was too late: Dunmore had radicalized a lot of Virginia planters who would otherwise have been very sympathetic to the crown position.

3, Former slaves served in both armies. Particularly during the Southern campaign, British officers continued Dunmore's policy of offering freedom to slaves who served Patriot masters. They did return slaves to loyalist masters. A lot of black people fled to British lines, many black men took up arms, these former slaves all left the country after the war - part of the roughly 5% of the North American population who emigrated after the Revolution. Slaves and free blacks, especially from the North, also took up arms with the Continental Army and Washington made offers to slaves as well.

Several students made another point which I had not been looking for but which I gave them credit for.
4, The colonies had a strong economy before the Revolution. This economy was built on exporting tropical staples from Virginia and on trade between New England and the Caribbean. The colonial economy was based on slavery, without slavery they would not have been in an economic position to contemplate independence.

I ended up getting a lot of bad essays on this question - it was the preferred choice for people who had not been keeping up and wanted to BS their way through the exam. I also got a lot of discussion about slavery and the Constitution, something that was outside of the topic.

Scroll up for this week's homework.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:54 AM | TrackBack

Jefferson Recap The lecture

Jefferson Recap

The lecture on Thomas Jefferson went well, but I had seriously overprepared and did not get past the early 1790s in either class.

I spent a few minutes at the start handing back midterms (median C+/B-, 3 A, 3 F, generally good) and giving them the "this contains offensive words, the author presents her characters offensively, we know it is offensive, tell me why Stowe is doing this with her characters" speech about Uncle Tom's Cabin.

I organized Jefferson around "why does he matter" so that I could conclude that Jefferson's use of "The Earth Belongs to the Living" encouraged the nation to turn from worship of a dead set of documents to a live and constantly changing understanding of the founding ideology.

The tall woman in the afternoon class pointed out the ironies in this after class - living constitution is normally associated with John Marshall, Jefferson was a strict constructionist when in the opposition. I reminded her that Jefferson grounded his constitutional thought in natural law - need to remember to put that in on Thursday - and that his strict construction was somewhat tactical.

I did the usual narrative of his life, focused on his ideas, and so on. I added something to the outline (it is now in the outline for next semester) where I talked about Jefferson's inability to speak in public. In his one speech in the House of Burgesses, he panic'd. His throat choked up, he squeaked, and people laughed at him. I put this into a gender context, arguing that public speaking, proving yourself and bending others to your will, was an essential part of turn of the century masculinity and a central part of education in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. TJ could not do it. So, he displaced his masculinity from his voice and gesture into his pen. He wrote incessently, he proved himself and bent others to his will in letters and in personal conversation, and his wrist was his public organ. This let me set up Head and the Heart by focusing on the opening paragraph where he talks about his sprained wrist keeping him up all night - while with Maria he had hurt the body part that expressed his public masculinity, this hurt reminded him of his likely deathbed promise to his wife, and TJ broke off the flirtation in Head and Heart.

I moved Sally Hemings up. I might well have spent too much time on TJ's family and romantic life. I know we spent a lot of time looking at Head and the Heart - not sure if it was worth their time to plow through that. I know I got bored when I re-read it. I did not go into much depth on Sally Hemings and his second family, did not give the pop psyche of "his wife's spit and image, but black and not married so does not count (and the kids can not contest inheritance)." I am not sure if I should squeeze that into Thursday. Probably not; we need to move on.

I tried to do the French Revolution quickly. I need to check to see where I gave the French Revolution in other semesters; it crowded TJ to have to explain the rev althought the time pressure kept me from getting bogged down in the details. I did the quick Financial Crisis --> Political Crisis --> National Assembly --> King Loses Control --> Series of Governments --> Terror and Robespierre (very brief) --> Directory. It was all pretty sketchy, just enough to make the point that TJ was in France at the start of the Rev, and from then on whenever he heard about it he imagined the early days of reasoned debate and not the later period of civil war, scorched earth atrocities, and guillotines in the streets. Put French Rev dates on the board again for Thursday to help give context to the Adams-Madison lecture.

Morning section made it to 1795, afternoon section stopped in 1793. For both I was able to give Joanne Freeman's take on how to practice politics, but in both it was a little short and obscure. Give that again on Thursday.

We stopped in 1795 and then jumped to five minutes on why TJ matters. I had set up Jefferson and slavery in the second ten minutes. The kids read Jefferson's "Fire Bell in the Night" from 1820 but we did not get to talk about it. Use that when we get to 1820 next week. I need to remember that I do not need to talk about everything we read.

What I did not do was give the blow-by-blow of 1794. That is twice now in this era that I have skipped the hardcore review, the first being the Imperial Crisis. I need to think on this: are they better off having me explain Citizen Genet, Democrat-Republican Clubs, and the Jay Treaty or are they better off having me explain writing letters, gossip, and the personalities of the guys? The first is better for the weak students, the second for the strong students. Based on the midterm results, I need to reach out more to the weak students. But, based on class attendance and the midterm results, most of the weak students have been voting with their feet, not attending class, and digging themselves in even deeper holes. Most of the regular faces scored a B or better; most of the strange faces scored a C or lower.

How can I make class more compelling for the weaker students, and how can I grab their attention at the start of the semester so they get into the habit of coming to class?

This was notes for me, sorry readers. It helped me plan my class for tomorrow.

Edit - added paragraph on wrist

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:13 AM | TrackBack

Carnival of the Vanities

Carnival of the Vanities

Carnival of the Vanities is up at Eric Berlin. I just submitted something for next week, my first Carnival submission.

I sent them last week's piece on Truth, Lies, and Compulsive Honesty rather than this week's long rant on Out of Character. Both are good, but longwinded.

I probably should have sent in the bit about not having to beat my wife, it amused me and funny is important. But, it is older and that piece has already served its primary purpose - it made J laugh when she read it.

A writing day today.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:32 AM | TrackBack

October 21, 2003

Thomas Jefferson Day Today

Thomas Jefferson Day

Today I give the big Jefferson lecture. I like this one, I spent a lot of time doing Jeffersonia while down in Virginia, I co-taught a Jefferson letters class, and I use TJ a lot in my dissertation.

I am review it in another window as I blog this, so that I can customize the lecture for this semester, and I had a random thought.

Jefferson never had a thought in his life that he did not quickly scribble down on a piece of paper. Many of those pieces of papers were then mailed to his friends - about 18,000 Jefferson letters survive and we estimate that he burned another 10,000 while preparing his papers for his death.

I tend to blog my thoughts, almost as I get them. I wonder what sort of a blog Jefferson would have kept?

And back to trying to fit a lifetime into 80 minutes.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:10 AM | TrackBack

A New Hero I

A New Hero

I am incredibly impressed with one of my students. She is a single mom with three children, 1, 2, and 4 years old. She works. She is taking 5 classes, and she is holding an A- average in all of them.

She makes me feel like a slacker.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:35 AM | TrackBack

October 20, 2003

Monday Homework. A while

Monday Homework.

A while back I said I would start handing out homework on Monday and answering it on Friday. I like the idea, but the timing does not work. I collect homework through Tuesday of the following week, and I do not want to post an analysis of what I am looking for until after that date. Some students are very good with google.

So, I will start posting homework questions on Thursday and will answer them on Wednesday of the following week. This week's question will be a Jefferson paraphrase that will get the attention of the pro-gun folks. How shall I keep you busy until then? I shall give you one of my midterm essay questions:

How did the presence of slavery in the colonies affect the American Revolution?

And back to grading.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:14 AM | TrackBack

I am not a

I am not a historian of the Vietnam War.

I study the nineteenth century, and I study ideas and culture rather than war and diplomacy. Still, I teach the surveys and so I have a passing familiarity with Vietnam. Why do I feel impelled to mention this?

There has been a recurring theme in the punditsphere comparing the Vietnam War with the Iraq War. So far I have seen the comparison in Op-Ed pages, on blogs, and in editorials. Some comparisons are better than others.

The next time I have brain energy and am not getting work done I will answer these questions, for now I leave them to the readers and to the punditsphere at large. I shall phrase it in the form of a student exercise.

In what ways is the Iraq war like the Vietnam War?

In what ways does the Iraq war differ from the Vietnam War?

What lessons from the Vietnam war are most appropriate for the Iraqi reconstruction?

My answers in a day or so after I write them up. (And after I dig up some of those things that I remember reading.)

Grading done, and so to fetch the little man from daycare, and then to buy more coffee.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:00 AM | TrackBack

Baby names to avoid.

Baby names to avoid.

J and I have been talking about names for the Macadamia (forthcoming). We have a short list, and we are fairly happy with the names on the short list. Going through this exercise has made us very aware of the difference between good, bad, and strange baby names. Eugene Volokh points out some most extremely bad names, including Latrina and Titiporn. Those are bad enough that I no longer feel quite so guilty about trying to get Norbert onto the short list.

I like the name Norbert, despite having a not very impressive neighbor named Norby when I was younger and despite knowing a gnome warrior in Everquest named Norbert, because Norbert is unusual, because it is a family name (as Norbertus, to go with Martinus and Marinus), because I like Norbert Elias's sociology, and because I like a name that means nor, North, and bert, bright or shining: Bright, Shining North or bright light of the North. Norbert is like Aurora Borealis, only clunkier and not in Latin.

It could be worse. My cousin has told his mom that the leading girls name on his short list is Norberta. He is a notorious kidder, so he might well be kidding. We will know in a few months. Norberta makes just about anything look modern and stylis.

Down to 10 papers, but I grade the essays in order of the identifications, so these ten were written by folks who had train wrecks on the first part of the exam. No wonder I am trying not to grade them.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:45 AM | TrackBack

October 19, 2003

Second followup Why did

Second followup

Why did I care enough about this to spend about 90 minutes of my valuable time writing it up? I am a cultural historian. My next project will be a study of masculinity, personal appearance, and physical charisma in the long nineteenth century. I have long been interested in the middle classes and in the way that people construct their social realms. When I saw the critical comments about Cat they pushed my "this is significant" button and I tried to tie them into these concerns. I should really have been polishing my skills at discussing legitimacy, the sub-topic of my current project, but I am grading and off my usual rhythms.

I write my blog in large part because it lets me try out ideas and write think pieces. This explains why the blog gets repetitive sometimes - I am working on variations of the same thought. Right now my thought is that writing this was more fun than reading blue books, even though I do not like my conclusion. Like most of my big blog entries, it needs a rewrite.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:36 AM | TrackBack

Followup to the long

Followup to the long thing just posted.

The Public-Private dichotomy helps explain why same sex marriage is so disconcerting to many people. Marriage is a public celebration and recognition of private acts. It creates a legal protection around intimate human behavior. And, while the precedent of this legal protection stems from concerns about property and inheritance, not about individual privacy and happiness, the institution has changed.

It is possible to feel that same-sex sexual contact is acceptable in private, like pooping, without wanting to see it in public. If someone has internalized the notion that same-sex romance is filthy or disgusting, then they will respond to two people holding hands on a city bus in much the same way that the rest of us would respond to someone defecating on that bus. It helps me understand the distaste with which some people view actions that have never bothered me. It also explains the surprising popularity of the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy. That policy pretends that sexuality is a completely private matter, that people who work together never develop friendships and never discuss intimate matters - remember that "who are you going out with on Saturday?" is an intimate question.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:34 AM | TrackBack

Out of Character? Folks

Out of Character?

Folks are often surprised when Eugene Volokh and other pundit types post recipes. Sometimes Volokh gets grief for cutting corners in those recipes, sometimes folks like them. No links, but you can find all sorts of commentary on his salmon croquettes if you google for them. Often, however, folks are surprised to see law professors and semi-professional pundits opine about things other than law and politics.

I bring this up because Cat Nastey has been having trouble with her commentators every time she changes her focus from her sexuality to the rest of her life. This got me thinking. Many people write blogs that are little more than diaries - I know that if I am at the computer I tend to blog whatever comes to mind at the moment. Many of the more readable blogs are focused in one way or another, whether on politics, or on religion, or on sexuality, or on some other hobby. Many of those blogs will often, as with Volokh and recipes, tell their readers about other interesting things in the authors' lives.

What strikes me is that many biographical blogs or commentary blogs will have an apology before giving Too Much Information - I know one person who puts spoiler space around TMI as if she were telling the plot of a movie. Many others edit themselves before giving TMI, I know that I certainly do. The odd thing is that there is a class of voyeurism blogs, like Cat Nastey's, where the entire point of the blog is that the author DOES give Too Much Information. And, oddly, those are also the blogs where commentators get all bent out of shape if the author has a life, a brain, and a personality. (Ob disclaimer, I sometimes visit voyeurism blogs for the cheap thrills, I read them more than twice for the personality)

Why is it that we are more disconcerted to discover that an exhibitionist woman likes Shakespeare than we are to find that a law professor approves of fellatio?

My first thought is that it revolves around the old Virgin/Whore dichotomy, with men feeling somehow ashamed of their own sexuality at the same time that they feel pressured to gratify their sexuality. They resolve this shame by displacing it onto the people with whom they gratify their physical desires, particularly if they have been engaged in what Gandhi called the sin of "sex without love." This is a common mental pattern among modern Western men, less common than it once was, and a pattern that the feminist in me critiques whole heartedly.

My second thought is that this is more closely tied to the history of manners and of polite behavior. Norbert Elias argues in his The Civilizing Process that manners were invented during the Early Modern era as a means by which people could create social distinctions. In the process they created social conventions that first treated defecation, urination, and filth as "disgusting" and then moved on to create refinements in the tools and methods used for eating. The whole was hinged to the use of custom and behavior to alter the animal actions of our bodies. Those who failed to follow the new social codes were stigmatized or, in extreme cases, treated as deviants.

Now, I am much happier to live in a land of flush toilets and regular baths than in the pre-modern world. The thing to note from this is that, according to Elias, the first animal actions to be marked as deviant are those that deal with elimination. Sexual actions soon followed, and although the limited privacy available before the nineteenth century certainly made sexual modesty and sexual prudery less common, sexuality was still something best reserved for private or for bed. (Pre-nineteenth century beds were often common sleeping places used by several people, not always related to one another. Consider Ishmael and Queequeg.)

Thus, to take an example of an 18th century man trying to learn his manners, the second precept George Washington wrote into his commonplace book in 1747 was "When in company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered" (made known to others) and the seventh was a warning not to go about half-dressed or change clothing when out of your chamber - both involved physical modesty. The last twenty of the one hundred ten precepts all deal with food and table manners. He does not mention sexuality, but it is hard to be sexual without going at least half dressed or putting hands to "Part of the Body, not usually Discovered."

Most of the time when people are disconcerted by Too Much Information, the information involves the groin - either sexuality or excretion. By the same token, someone whose discourse regularly involves those "Parts of the Body, not usually Discovered" has marked themselves as a person without manners or social status. They are, in the Western European caste system, unclean. For an unclean person to claim a place in polite society, especially by participating in intellectual discourse, is something that hits us on the level of basic socialization. It produces a visceral sensation of wrongness even if we can not explain why.

This second explanation for folks' disparate reactions to people who break their pattern is less helpful than the first. We can try to train ourselves not to despise our sexuality and thus not to have to displace it; we can try to train ourselves not to engage in sex without love and thus not to have to despise our sexuality. Do we really want to train ourselves to drop our basic socialization?

Thus I do think that Carly is right, and pornography will never become mainstream even though the mainstream media continue to titillate themselves and their audience with mention of or discussions about pornography. So long as we have a strong acculturation that the groin is somehow unclean and disgusting, those who make their money from exposing their groins will remain outcast.

And yet, this too is incomplete. Let us add location to our discussion. Remember that Washington made two comments about body modesty when he summarized half a dozen books of manners back in 1747. Both involved the notion of "public." Do not touch below your clothes in public, do not go unclothed outside of your chamber. He says nothing about what we do in private. Indeed, because we can not escape the animal nature of our bodies, we resolve our learned disgust by seeking privacy to fulfill the animal need of elimination: the "littlest room." We could very well have decided that we would need privacy to fulfill the animal need of consumption, private dining rooms hint that way, but we did not. What is done in private may be disgusting to others, but because it is kept behind closed doors we effectively tell others that they need not concern themselves with it. In private, we do as we please.

The question of Too Much Information, then, turns from one of manners and the groin to a question of public and private. And, the line between public and private has moved and continues to move. We can continue to agree that some behavior is public and should be carried out regardless of whether others are around, and that some behavior is private and should only be engaged in when by ourselves. We disagree about where the line should be drawn (kissing in public? holding hands?) but we agree that there are some lines (pooping with the doors open).

Thinking in these terms helps us resolve the question of what is going on with the disparate reactions to people who go out of character in their blogs. The question about blogs boils down to whether a blog is a public or a private document. That, in turn, will vary by blog. Greg Easterbrook's blog-column for The New Republic is obviously public, so is Glenn Reynolds at MSNBC. Blogs written for a friend or a family or as the electronic version of a diary are more private. Many of these, the truly private blogs, are either kept locked and password protected or are rendered effectively anonymous through obscurity. If you do not tell anyone about your blog, they can not read it. Thus, most of the blogs that we actually read are semi-public. They are edited glimpses into the author's thoughts; nothing could be more intimate. But these thoughts have been shared, and edited, and selected.

A blog exists in an intermediate sphere, part public and part private. There are many transitory zones like this. Consider that while most work places are public by definition, most people work with a small group of people who get to know over a period of time. You can get to know your co-workers and become intimate with their thoughts and personalities, although you need not do so. Intimacy varies from person to person. We can think of the gradations of public and private in terms of intimacy.

"Too Much Information", then, will depend on the level of intimacy that exists between two individuals. This is something that is difficult to measure, and so to prevent embarrassment most of us limit the personal information that we share with people.

We can now answer the question we first posed, why do some forms of sharing violate some readers' expectations? When Volokh shares a cake, or a salmon croquette he is sharing something that he cares about, that he likes, but that is not particularly intimate. We do, after all, eat food in the company of strangers. It fits with the level of intimacy he has created in his blog. When Kat shares her love of Shakespeare, it fits perfectly with a blog that is a fairly intimate disclosure of the things that she cares about.

I suspect that the people who are offended or bothered by it are bothered because it violates their expectations of intimacy. They had come looking for a fairly mechanical discussion of ballistics (the science of moving bodies.) When she shares her ideas, she has opened up a level of intimacy that does not exist. My blog is in some ways the converse of the sex blogs: I share my mind and my ideas and am reticent about my animal nature. If I were to recount a sexual encounter, or tell you about my latest poop, it would jar and disconcert my readers just as her revelation of emotion and intellect disconcert hers.

And so to post some followups - let me know if you waded this far.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:34 AM | TrackBack

October 18, 2003

Things I learned while

Things I learned while grading

Firstly, I did not spend enough time on New England, particularly declension and the role of the British government in softening the original Puritan system. Next time, make some more time for that, and even if I do not talk about the Salem Witch Trials, do talk about the dominion of New England and do put a brief sketch on the board with the dates and highlights of the various charters.

Secondly, We pretty much ignored the Carolinas. As far as the kids are concerned, there were three regions in the colonies, not four. They know of New England, the Middle Colonies, and the Chesapeake and that is all. Oh, they have some awareness of the Caribbean and we did talk about South Carolina but we only talked about it once in the slavery class and in passing during the mercantilism sub-lecture. I do not know how much time I want to spend on the Carolinas but I do need to say more.

So far I have read the essays from the kids who did well on their identifications, gotten a feel for what was possible, and then graded a couple of essays. I am going with minimal markup so I can try to crank these things out by Tuesday. I also started reading Uncle Tom's Cabin so that I can give them their paper topic. I have no idea on the topic and need to focus on grading and Jefferson prep not on Ms Beecher Stowe. I also have to give the little warning talk on Tuesday to let them know that I am very aware that there are obnoxious language and offensive attitudes in the book, both from the author and from the characters.

J and baby are off to the farm market. I get to grade.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:49 AM | TrackBack

Allen Brill has a

Allen Brill has a very smart piece on the recent comments by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir and American general Jerry Boykin. He points out the terrible irony in people who worship the same Abrahamic God claiming that other worshippers from the same religious family are evil. He then takes the comparison in an interesting direction, focusing on a speaker's duty to tell an audience what it needs to hear rather than what will make it comfortable.

It is a good sermon point, I have heard similar sermons before, and it is a point well worth repeating. Perhaps the most destructive intellectual impulse is sanctimony (is that a word?), assuring yourself that you are fine while those other people are flawed, so flawed that you need not pay any attention to their words, their wants or their needs.

Discourse within a closed circle often turns this way, and it turns badly when it does. Brill looks at speech within religious communities, but you can say the same thing about speech within political communities and within intellectual communities. If you are reading this, you probably read other web logs. Look at your blogroll and your bookmarks - is there a pattern to them? Do you link to people who you do not agree with but who do make you think? If not, why not?

And I hear the wife calling.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:08 AM | TrackBack

October 17, 2003

LeeAnn wonders about shaving

LeeAnn wonders about shaving with a brush and soap.

I wear a full beard, which means that I only have to shave my neck and not the tricky bits around the chin and mouth. Even so, I cut myself regularly - my skin is just rough enough to catch the razor blade.

I prefer the brush and soap to the stuff in the can - it smells better, it applies more smoothly, and there is a certain ritual to working up and applying the lather. It does not take a lot of time or give me problems because I am stumbling tired in the morning - if only because I often wake up, eat, write, and only shower in the mid morning after I have gotten some work done. But even on mornings where I pour myself into the shower while half asleep, the hot water wakes me to the point where, if I am safe using a razor I am safe using the brush and the soap.

I recommend the shaving brush over the can; folks who are looking for a gift for their honey should consider giving one. There is something to be said for morning rituals.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:36 AM | TrackBack

Homework answer. I asked

Homework answer.

I asked Was the U.S. Constitution a continuation or a repudiation of Revolutionary Ideals?

This is an old chestnut in American history and, like many of the homework questions I give, there is no obvious answer. What I look for is that the students take a position and support it with historical evidence. So, rather than answering the question itself, I will lay out some of the main positions and the evidence for each. This is going to be quick and superficial; the alternative would be for me to write a short book.

It is pretty clear that the Constitution was something of a reaction to the revolution, and especially to the way that the contagion of liberty was leading more and more people to desire revolutionary rights. The question is whether the changes in the constitution limited the excesses of the Revolution in order to preserve the core values of the revolution, or whether the constitution so limited revolutionary ideals as to change the very nature of the social experiment. The answer will depend on what you define as the core values of the American Revolution.

If revolutionary ideals were those laid out in the Declaration or the VA Declaration: inalienable rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; government by consent of the governed - then the Constitution was a way of ensuring that these ideals would be carried out.

If revolutionary ideals were those laid out by Tom Paine in Common Sense and by the rabble rousers: government immediately responsible to the governed; an end to hierarchies and elites; society as a commonwealth based on virtue and simplicity - then the Constitution was a repudiation.

We did not read Paine this semester, and so most of the kids decided that the Constitution was a continuation of the revolution because it created a stable structure so that a republic would survive. So long as we have republican self government, we do not need to worry about the detailed workings or ideals of that republic.

I will post next week's homework question on Monday.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:32 AM | TrackBack

I like movies. I

I like movies.

I like movies. J generally does not like movies. Ever since we got her early birthday present (a DVD player) I have been checking out movies from the library and watching them while rocking the baby to sleep.

Tonight we wanted to do something together. I had gotten Gladiator from the library, a movie that she wanted to see. So we had family movie night. The movie was on, the baby was crawling around and every so often standing in front of the TV being opaque, J folded laundry, I read the Chronicle of Higher Education and we were social together.

We do not do that enough.

After about half an hour of the movie, the laundry was folded, the baby was restless, and we turned off the tv and continued our nightly rituals. Baby got to bed late, I am blogging briefly and then to bed myself. I just like to use Sam Pepys line.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:47 AM | TrackBack

The Friday Five for

The Friday Five for Oct 17, 2003

Answer the following five questions in your weblog or journal. Make sure you leave a comment here with a link to your post (or just leave your answers in the comments section).

1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
- Skim milk
- hummus
- home-made jam
- leftovers
- sourdough starter

2. Name five things in your freezer.
- frozen yoghurt for me
- ice cream for J
- frozen peaches for the baby
- bakers yeast
- ice cubes

3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
- big box of trash bags
- fire extinquisher
- dog fud
- cat fud
- I think that is all we have under there.

4. Name five things around your computer.
- piles of papers
- desk lamp
- scissors
- paper weight
- small statue of a dog that I got in junior high

5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
- niaspan (cholesterol drugs)
- aspirin
- cold medicine
- baby tylenol
- shaving brush and shaving soap

I do not much like this week's Five. It is a list, it gave me no pleasure, no memory, no self-knowledge to make this list. I might get or give some voyeuristic pleasure through this sort of virtual peeking in cupboards, but I doubt it.

Still, I posted it.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

Flirting and relationships The

Flirting and relationships

The Washington Post has a nice article on the role of flirtation in modern youth culture.

This ties into my earlier thoughts about romance as the new edge play. There is a very real thrill to a conversation, a lingering brush of the hand, or to eye contact across a room.

Looking back over what I wrote, and over Carly's reading, I realize that two words that I thought were partially overlapping synonyms turn out to be technical terms. "Erotica" appears to be the publishing industry term for written words intended to produce some level of sexual arousal, while "Porn" is images and moving media. I was using the terms as they are found in Academe, where "porn" is material that is solely intended to produce sexual arousal while "erotica" produces sexual arousal in addition to having some artistic, cultural, or political value. So, D.H. Lawrence would be filed under erotica, a Beeline double novel under written pornography.

Under the same criteria, the mainstream movie 9 1/2 weeks would be erotica, pretty explicit but still erotic, while the porn knockoff 10 1/2 weeks would not be. That, of course, leaves the question of how do you file a movie that has both artistic value and graphic sex - imagine that say Henry and June was a little more hardcore. But, that is the problem with ideal types - there is always a grey area in real life.

How does this connect to the death of flirtation and to romance as edge play? Simply in the realization that sometimes, often, emotions are more powerful than physical pleasures. Or, from another perspective, desire is highly compelling. Desire is created from feelings, emotions, and anticipation - the imagination of future physical pleasure. It is a mental state. And, while lots of people will say that the most important aspect of sexuality is internal and mental, it is rare to see that art of sexuality, especially the commercial art of sexuality, take these mental aspects into account.

So, what is our application for todays little rant? Do something nice for your sweet baboo, just because. And, while you are at it, take some time to flirt with them. I think that, tonight at dinner, I shall distract the baby, take J's hand in mine, kiss her hand, and tell her I love her. That would please me, it might please her.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:46 AM | TrackBack

Morning teaching thoughts I

Morning teaching thoughts

I was looking over the midterms, and I was looking over that LONG thing I wrote yesterday, and I had a couple of thoughts.

The first is that I really do need to make sure that I have time in the classroom to go over the Imperial Crisis in good detail, blow by blow. I already knew that I had to walk community college students through it, and at Urban University I can safely say that while the good students can figure it out from the text I need to walk the weaker students through. So, I need to find about half a class of stuff that I can jetison to make room for the full crisis.

The second thing that I was mulling over was that I was wondering why my writeup for How Do You Work This was so very long. It was four pages, single spaced, in the word processor. The answer is, of course, that I went into more detail about what I covered. But why the more detail? For colonial history my teaching notes boil down to mentioning that I gave them one historian's opinion on one thing and another historian's opinion on another thing, we reviewed some facts, and there you go. For the Early Republic, I have been so immersed in it for so long that I can't simply pick one interpretation and summarize it for the kids - I have my own interpretations. So, I need to explain what we did rather than just blogging a pointer to it. I expect that the blog for Jefferson day will be long as well, although there I do intend to summarize a couple of the standard Jefferson interpretations and to use Joanne Freeman's understanding of the practice of politics in the EAR.

In other news, I feel much better today. I slept 8 hours - got to bed early and even spooning with J could not keep me awake. Then she took all the late night baby duty and let me sleep in until 6:30. Thanks J, I needed that.

And so to work. It is a grading day so expect occasional random updates.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:24 AM | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

How Do You Work

How Do You Work This?

Today I got more experience at teaching class while running on not enough sleep. All things considered, it went pretty well. I did better in the morning than in the afternoon class, mostly because I was exhausted by second class and lost my trains of thought several times. It is midterm week and we had a midterm on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the turnout was low today.

The outline was:
First Congress
Hamilton and Funding
Madison, Jefferson and the opposition
Women and society

I think I need to find some more recent cultural references. I got the name for this section from the Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime." I checked, and only one of the sixty-odd kids in class today had seen the movie Stop Making Sense. Another half dozen or so knew the song and a few more got it when I started reciting lyrics. "You may find yourself at the wheel of a large automobile, ... you may find yourself living in a beautiful house ... and you may ask yourself, self, how did I get here? ... and you may ask yourself, how do I work this?" In the movie of their live concert, David Byrne looks at his hand and wiggles it as he says the words.

My mind makes strange connections, and ever since I started working in the Early American Republic I have connected that early 1980s pop song with the period in which the founders were trying to figure out how to make a republican government work properly. I organize the first class in the three-class sequence that runs from the First Congress through the War of 1812 around the notion that the guys were figuring it out as they went along, were very conscious that they were setting precedents, and were very nervous that their fellows were going to make a mistake or become corrupt and so doom the whole endeavor by setting the wrong precedent.

So, what did we do in class?

After introductory remarks focused on the Talking Heads song I went back to ratification. I spent about half an hour working them through ratification and the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debate. I framed the difference between the two in terms of democracy v republicanism, with the anti's believing in direct representation where each delegate represented a small homogenous district, every delegate was bound to comply with the policy wishes of his constituents, and constituents could, at any time, hold a public meeting and send binding instructions to their representative. He could then either vote as his constituents desired, or resign. There was no other honorable course for a direct representative. The Federalists, by contrast, believed in indirect representation. They were closer to the old New England assumption that it was the voters' duty to choose a proper magistrate and then accept whatever decisions the magistrate decided were in the best interests of the whole community. I proved this by pointing out the indirect nature of representation under the Constitution, whether the large districts for the House, the indirect nature of the electoral college, the effectively indirect method of having the state legislatures pick Senators, or the mediated election of the ratification conventions.

At around this time I did a brief discussion of the Federalists. I laid out their role as talking points for Federalist delegates, first written for the NY convention but then used elsewhere. I checked, about a third of the morning section had read Fed 10, a quarter had read Fed 51. In the afternoon only one or two had read them before. Note: three Federalists is about right - they were glad we read them but were glad not to have read more. Also, I am not fond of 72 - find a different Hamilton document. Both sections had someone who could re-cap Federalist 10, afternoon section had someone confuse it with 51 but we got there eventually. I worked them through the Montaigne argument pretty quickly and tied Madison v Montaigne to the ideal type of the democratic representative and the republican magistrate. I then reminded them that the US Const was not Sam Adams's Christian Sparta - there was no reliance on morality to create a perfect citizenry who could run a republic. Instead they assumed that people were imperfect and selfish and tried to build a structure that would contain and control human weakness. It was secular social engineering. I think I said more on it, but I was mazy at that point in the afternoon and I am adding this paragraph later at night, and I do not remember.

From there I made sure, in both sections, that I made the popular sovereignty point about the ratification conventions - the constitution was ratified by the people in convention assembled, not by state legislatures. The guys in Philadelphia (I blamed it on Madison, not sure if it was he or not) wanted to be clear that the basis for the new union was the people themselves, not the sovereign state legislatures. And, while this was largely forgotten in the Early Republic itself, it would be re-stated by Jackson during nullification and Jackson's notion of the union would then later be fully enunciated by Lincoln in the Gettysburg address and elsewhere. I even drew the little diagram on the board, with "the people" at the top and two arrows pointing down at an angle, one to each side. At the end of one bottom arrow I wrote "states" and at the other I wrote "national" to give them a visual reminder that the Constitution put the people in the sovereign location that had earlier been held by Parliament.

At this point we finally talked about whether the Constitution was a continuation or a repudiation of Revolutionary ideals. It was a short discussion, but I got some talk from them. I will talk more about that in tomorrow's blog.

Finally, I pointed out that the conventions ratified with amendments. I explained that the guys in Philadelphia had expressly chosen not to include a bill of rights because, as Gouvernor Morris and others argued, to enumerate rights is to limit them to the rights that happen to be on the list. Because no one can write down every right, it is better to have a system that is inherently structured around the notion of inalienable human rights. The guys in Philadelphia bought that argument; the anti-Federalists did not. They had had enough experience with rights developed from precedent and reason under the unwritten British Constitution and they did not trust a new written constitution with an internal structure based on unwritten rights. They wanted it in ink, and they insisted. While some of the proposed amendments were intended as Constitution-killers, in the end most states ratified conditionally and the conditions included rights.

That ended ratification and I was ready for the First Congress.

I was tired and goofed - I had intended to give them Madison's race against Patrick Henry for the US House in which Madison only won because he promised to write a Bill of Rights into the Constitution as amendments. And, after he got to New York, he pushed and prodded the other guys into doing a Bill of Rights so he could fulfill his campaign promise. But, I left that out. I won't be back. And so it goes.

Instead I jumped right into the metropolis problem. I asked what was the largest city in Pennsylvania? What was the capital of Pennsylvania? And Why they thought the founders had packed government off to a small town in the boondocks when colonial government had been located in Philadelphia? I then said a few words about metropoles, using London, Paris, and Boston as the example, and suggesting that while a metropolis that combines wealth, society, politics and culture can produce a rich and wonderful society, the founders feared that the confluence of wealth, society, and power would lead to corruption of the delegates. So, they packed the legislatures off to the boondocks and, not surprisingly, only Boston had a rich cultural life in the nineteenth century.

I did much better with First Congress in the morning section. I got there earlier, I was less tired, I had moved more smoothly through the material to that point. For second section, it took me several minutes to put a train of thought together, articulate it, and then remember it so that I could move on. It was not a good performance.

I did finally get going. I emphasized the problem of precedent, using the examples of Washington and treaties and of the Judicial system to point out just how vague and general the US Constitution really is. That is the genius of the document, it leaves the mechanics to Congress and the political system, unlike State constitution that tend to spell everything out much more clearly and have been amended and re-written almost constantly since 1776. Having set up the problem of precedent and, better in the morning than the afternoon, used MaClay and his diary to set the tone of constant suspicion about the meanings and purposes of precedent, I moved on to Hamilton and Madison.

In the morning I put my pocket Bio of Hamilton here. The afternoon got him closer to the end. I did my usual - bastard, orphan, Nevis, patron-client send him to college, King's College, Imperial Crisis, Army, Washington's staff, marriage, break with GW, colonel of a regiment, back to being lawyer, nationalist, at Philadelphia, the monarchy speech, in cabinet, active and energetic, wrote a lot. We will do more with him on Tuesday as well.

I limited myself to funding. I had not reviewed but rather did it from memory - one of the afternoon students caught me and asked about the bits I was leaving out. I explained that I was focusing on the parts that got Madison nervous, and she accepted that.

I started with assumption, arguing that Hamilton wanted to replace most of the old US debt and most of the state debt with new debt certificates, bonds, paying 4%. These new bonds would be supported by the government while the old ones had not been paid, so it looked like a good deal. (I simplified, there were several tiers of debt and Ham had subtle differences in how he handled foreign and domestic debt. She called me on that, and I did correctly explain that he wanted to pay off the foreign debt with a sinking fund (like a mortgage) while keeping the domestic debt going as part of his system.)

Then, to get these bonds back in place, he set up a bank and said that the bank would accept these debt certificates as capital - you could trade a piece of US debt for a share in the bank. (I simplified here, had to give one quarter cash, three quarters debt.)

The bank then issued currency. I forgot to mention this part in morning section until someone was confused by the whole money circle and, when reviewing it, I realized my goof. They got it the second time after I did a little visual exercise using the students in the front row as members in the monetary chain. This currency was backed by the bank assets, which mostly consisted of those debt certificates. The money circulated, fixed the former shortage of specie by giving new money, and could even be used to pay taxes.

Finally, Hamilton set up an extensive system of taxes. I focused on the import taxes - forgot to say anything about excises. Excises were irrelevant for the political point I was making today, but they will be very important on Tuesday. These taxes could be paid in bank currency or in specie, and the revenues went to pay the interest on the domestic debt and the sinking fund on the foreign debt, thus maintaining the value of the debt, which maintained the capital of the bank, which maintained the value of the currency, which was used to pay the taxes. It was a perfect cycle and very clever indeed.

But, Madison hated it. I set up his hatred in Elkis & McKitrick style by focusing on Madison's dislike of Britain. Madison wanted to favor France, the ally, but France could not generate enough trade to make money through the tariffs, so pragmatic Ham wanted to trade with Britain regardless of any wrongs they had previously done. Ham and Mad began to distrust each other. I then made brief mention of the deal that sent the capital South in exchange for debt assumption and moved on.

That previous section ran me through two whole chunks of my outline without a clear break or demarcation. I think I need a better outline. (Oh, for the record I brought into the classroom a sheet and a half of 14 point type with my key points on it. I only goofed once, in second section, as I was elaborating the very bare talking points.)

At that point, in both sections, I had about 12 minutes left. In the morning I gave them the long version of Martha Ballard, in the afternoon I talked about Ham and then gave the short version. In both I introduced Martha, explained why she was in Maine, talked a little about her work as a midwife, recap'd Laural Ulrich's story about the doctor with the forceps and the laudanum, and then worked them through a brief life trajectory. I did more detail in the morning, including her husband's work as a surveyor, the white Indians who trashed the survey party, his tax collection failure and jailing, her struggle with her son for possession of the house, and her husband's return and the resumption of patriarchal authority. In the afternoon I just kept it to Martha and the doctor. In both, I finished by looking at Martha and subordinate women. In the 1780s she had two daughters and some servant women living in her house, working at weaving on a loom, and selling the cloth. In the middle of the story she was alone. In old age they once again had a servant, and by this time the servant would not mind, looking in a mirror rather than doing what she had been told and then railing at Martha when Martha tried to correct her.

Finally, in the last two minutes, I gave them a precis of the Jefferson letters we are reading for Tuesday. I am looking forward to the Jefferson class. I am going to revise my usual outline for it, I have decided to work the emotional and family story in line with the political story and give them TJ in straight chronological fashion. That means I need to make sure that I have both families and ALL the kids in his time line. It should be fun.

I am glad I got some women in; I have been slacking at women's history. I need to remember to talk about Dolly Madison and the social role of women in a political system where crucial decisions were made over dinner tables. This is a very long writeup. And, even though I stopped to bathe the baby, I need to get back to either housework or grading.

Edit - added paragraph about reviewing Federalists and wanting to change Fed 72 for another.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:13 AM | TrackBack

Zombie Day I have

Zombie Day

I have managed to mess up my sleep, something that I do far too often for my own good. For the last week or so I have been getting to bed around midnight, sometimes a little earlier and sometimes, if the baby cries as I am heading to bed, a little later. The baby wakes sometime between 5:00 and 6:15. J's alarm goes off at 6:00 and I have to get up to help her with the baby. Last night I got to bed after 1:30, so I am on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep.

This would not be so bad if I were not running on several days of short sleep. Yesterday I took a nap in the afternoon so that I could function. I needed that nap, but it may have helped keep me up. If I had gone to bed at the same time J collapsed, around 10:00, I would have gotten some rest before the baby got going.

Or maybe not. The weather changed yesterday. We had wonderful strong winds much of the day - I opened all the windows and celebrated the cyclone. I did not shut all of the windows in the late afternoon, and when J and baby came home at 8:00 the upstairs bedroom windows were still open and the upstairs rooms were chilly. So, we closed up house and turned on the heat. The baby was cold, so we turned it up. J went to bed. The baby was cold and woke, so I turned the heat up again, and then again. I think I have the downstairs thermostat at 73 or so in order to keep the baby's room at a comfortable 68.

When we upgrade the HVAC, this spring, we will indeed want to pay the extra moneys to get a zoned system.

It will be an interesting day of teaching today. I have a LOT of material planned, including a discussion, and when I am tired I tend to fall off the pace, get sidetracked, and then lecture over the time that was supposed to be spent letting the kids talk.

I do like today's class title: "How do you work this?". It is about the First Congress and the Early American Republic, a period where national leaders were very aware that they were setting precedents that would shape all subsequent operations of the government, and it always makes me think of the Talking Heads song "Letting the Days Go By."

See, rambling and distractable. That is me today.

And so to finish prepping class

Posted by Red Ted at 07:46 AM | TrackBack

October 15, 2003

Classroom clothing Jill Carroll

Classroom clothing

Jill Carroll writes about in-class persona and the way we present outselves.

I think I need to videotape one of my classes and see how I handle myself these days. I tend to have different problems than the person Carroll uses as her example - I am male, bearded and in my 30s, in other words I look a bit like Dad to many of the kids. This helps. It also helps that I learned that you dress to teach, if only to show respect for the discipline. I teach in jacket and tie, slacks, and polished wingtips. I am one step less formal than a lawyer, but still dressier than most office workers. Of course, office workers no longer dress as they once did - downtown Philadelphia is mostly shirtsleeves and dockers.

Appearance is only part of your classroom persona. Carroll suggest that, on the first day of class, you answer syllabus questions with simple yes and no rather than going into detail. I might try that. I already work on presenting a LOT of energy. I walk around, I make excellent eye contact, I project as needed, and I use my hands when I talk. I should probably dig up one of the 19th century elocution manuals that Kenneth Cmiel talks about in Democratic Eloquence because I am sure I could be using my arms better. There is a very important middle ground between being stuck behind a podium and sliding around like Billy Sunday.

I agree with Carroll on a lot of what she says about teaching as performance, I certainly do think of teaching as a form of performance art. When the clock swings around to class time I break off my chat with the students in the front row, take a deep breath, and tell myself "Showtime!"

The wonderful thing is that teaching is largely improvisation. Especially for US history, I know the stuff. All I need is a brief outline reminding me of what I am going to say and, for some days and some classes, a few numbers or data to write on the board. Other than that, I just go. I really really like the classroom part of teaching.

Speaking of which, I have finished prepping tomorrow's outline, which is what I came up to the computer to do. Time to go back to grading, and eat lunch, and so to continue my day.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:48 PM | TrackBack

Warm Fuzzy It is

Warm Fuzzy

It is a very nice warm fuzzy when you get a random phone call from someone who wants to give you a job. This is true even if the job is only adjunct work paying an hourly wage comparable to entry-level retail work. About a year ago I sent cold resumes to all the nearby schools. Monday I got a call from a nearby comprehensive suburban state university. Yesterday I interviewed, and now I have two sections of Western Civ for the Spring.

It looks like I will not be teaching at the community college next semester - unless urban research university has an unexpected lack of demand for the US survey. I expect them to make me an offer in a month or two.

Now I have to dig out and update my Western Civ syllabus - and pick new texts, and pick readings, and do my work. Still, Western Civ is a fun class to teach.

And back to grading.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:52 AM | TrackBack

The new edge play?

The new edge play?

This is an unformed thought. I am writing it down to pin it down. I will elaborate in a week or so. For some people, particularly people who have been embracing a lifestyle of relatively frequent, promiscuous, and kinky sex, romantic love and even monogamy are the new "edge play." They provide an excitement, and a sense of risk and potential hurt, of a comparable magnitude but different nature to their edge play. Dirty Whore is in the process of negotiating with a potentially serious honey. Cat Nastey found that the most exciting thing all week was chocolate chip cookies delivered at work. I think I can find other examples if I look around, including a study of the physical pain of rejection via the Speculist.

I mention this because, elsewhere, Carly asks what is the new genre for pornography. One of the attractions of pornography is that it plays with taboos - this is not the only attraction but it is one. Porn generates excitement by standing right at the edge of social norms, pushing buttons to generate a feeling of unease, coupling that unease with sexuality, and then combining the two to induce fascination. This is one reason why inter-racial erotica is still prevalent, though dated, and why it always uses "Black" with the capital B rather than any of the other words to describe African Americans. This is one reason why youth, or age, or strange sex have been recurrent themes. (Ed. This definition is very unlike the German definition of pornography as anything that encourages the audience to treat a human being as an object.)

As you play with a taboo you both reinforce it in the short term and undermine it in the long term. Howard Stern, for example, gets much of the energy from his show from "I can't believe he just said that" - focusing his listeners on the norm that Stern just violated. But, over time, he needs to find new boundaries to push. Similarly with sexuality and sexual foci, they change as what was once edge becomes mainstream. Examples of this include genital shaving - from kinky to mainstream - and even anal sex. If I recall from when I last rented dirty movies back in the 1980s, anal was unusual, exciting, and rare. These days, it is difficult to find hardcore erotica that uses the vagina. The point of all this information is simple, not so much that we are waltzing to Gomorrah but rather that fashions change, that erotic charge comes, in part, from risk and discomfort, and that falling in love with another, committing to another, is a huge risk which will lead to terrible emotional discomfort if things go poorly.

I could say more about how many young folks these days no longer date. They go out in packs, they "hook up" for casual sex. Sometimes they hook up regularly and get married. But there is less of the ritual, less focus on one-on-one social interaction. I may be hopelessly mired in the world of the nineteenth-century people I study, but perhaps there is something to be said for dating, for emotional risk and physical caution, and for love.

This definitely needs a re-write, but not this morning.
Edit: grammar, white space, and one comment. It still needs a major rewrite.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:46 AM | TrackBack

Weak arguments The little

Weak arguments

The little man woke up at 5:00 this morning, and while he got back to sleep neither J nor I did. I was lying in bed with my mind drifting, and I figured out that the long blog on Lies, Truth, and the Meaning of Words has a massive hole and two questionable rhetorical decisions. Now I need to write it down so the criticism will leave my head and I can grade.

The hole should be pretty darn obvious. I use the rhetorical technique synecdote to argue that popular culture can be reduced to Jim Steinman. And, despite the passing reference to J. D. Salinger, I do not provide any other evidence of a popular culture that values pathological honesty. If I were going to submit this for publication, even as an op-ed piece, I would have to go digging around in the lyrics of Eminem, Britney Spears, and other popular entertainers. Or, possibly, I could include a paragraph on "keeping it real" and the politics of personal presentation. I might still do that, but I won't research for a blog article. Blogging is self-indulgence, and there is a limit to the amount of time I will let it absorb.

The questionable decisions came as I tried to decide what to do with my comparison of Stevenson and Steinman. I chose to take it personal. This fit with the motif of speaking truth that had come up in the previous two entries, and the whole 3-piece set may well have been inspired by an email I sent to DW yesterday morning responding to her blogging about how best to tell the very vanilla man she is starting to date that she can be romantically faithful but not sexually faithful. I told her to tell the truth, for living a lie just eats away at you. (Edit - she agrees that she is compulsively honest.) Writing that email in the morning brought the Stevenson-Steinman thing to the forefront of my mind, I chewed on it all day, and when I got home I blogged it myself. The point of the story is that the whole thing came out of personal reflections and personal experience. A blog is, in the end, self indulgence and my blog is a diary not a manifesto. So, I went personal. It was the best choice for a blog entry, but having taken it personal I am less likely to submit the entry anywhere, even to Bonfire of the Vanities.

The second questionable decision was to go from the personal to the political. Short-term political speech is something that has also been lurking around the back of my head for a few weeks - I posted a teaser to the thought on one of Kevin Drum's Calpundit response threads. I was ignored there, I might be ignored here. In any case, I saw the connection to political speech. If I ever revise these thoughts and put them into proper culture-vulture form, I will return to the opening dichotomy between artistic speech valuing a pathological honesty and political speech grounded in expediency. As it was, coming out of a discussion of personal approaches to truth, I continued to frame the political question in personal terms.

Finally, of course, like a good New England sermon, I gave an application for my doctrine. That, I think, was a good decision.

And so to grade, and to revise chapter three some more.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:08 AM | TrackBack

From Handy Latin Phrases

From Handy Latin Phrases

Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.

I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.

For some reason this amuses me a lot.

And back to the blue books - slept poorly last night and keep stopping grading to do class prep.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:37 AM | TrackBack

October 14, 2003

Lies and Truth and

Lies and Truth and the Meaning of Words

The previous two entries have both centered on speaking truth. That, in turn, got me thinking about Adlai Stevenson and Jim Steinman and the role of truth in popular culture. Stevenson famously defined a lie as "an abomination unto the lord and a very present help in time of trouble." Stevenson was notoriously witty. He was also a professional politician and a man very aware that it is not always in the best interests of a person or a community to speak the truth at all times. In part as a reaction to that expedient approach to truth telling, Jim Steinman has been celebrating a sort of compusive honesty in popular culture.

Steinman came of age during Vietnam, a war defined by flexible definitions of truth. He became famous writing music and lyrics for Meatloaf. A recurring motif, perhaps the strongest statement in the music, is his compulsive honesty:

I want you
I need you
But-there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
'Cause two out of three ain't bad

or more recently
I would do anything for love
I'll never lie to you and that's a fact.
This aversion to lying extends to a commitment to oathtaking
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!
So now I'm praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
'Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don't think that I can really survive
I'll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I'm praying for the end of time
It's all that I can do
Praying for the end of time,
So I can end my time with you!!

It is worth quoting that at length because it emphasizes the extend to which Steinman takes the fulfillment of an oath as a binding duty. For him, lying and oathbreaking are the sin against the holy ghost which can never be forgiven. Steinman's lyrics are flamboyant and extreme; he pushes his points for rhetorical effect, and a pop song is not a philosophical treatise. A pop song is, however, a powerful meme. Andrew Fletcher once argued that he would not care who made the laws of a country so long as he could make the songs, and the principle holds true today. The assumptions and norms that we pick up through popular culture provide a lens through which we view our surroundings. At some level, we do judge our leaders against our bards and see if they measure up.

Compulsive honesty is at the forefront of Steinman's lyrics, but it appears elsewhere in popular culture and popular media as well. I do wonder to what extent the common adolescent distaste for "hypocrisy" is cause and consequence of the popular media's celebration of honesty. Holden Caulfield raged against phonies, and we all read Catcher in the Rye in high school, and his distaste for phonies resonates among Americans, just as it has resonated for generations since Salinger created the character. Adolescents, teenagers, are more likely to listen to music, read accessible fiction, and look for simple patterns to shape their world views. Part of becoming an adult is seeing and recognizing the urge to lie, temporize and spin; to see it in yourself and to understand its attractiveness to others. But is that a measure of adulthood that we want to encourage?

I admit that I still have a strong preference for truth telling and a strong preference for fulfilling a sworn oath. One of the things that I have discovered about myself is that I can not lie - a lie makes me so visibly uncomfortable that no one believes me. My dislike of lies is part of why I chose to give the little man the middle name Micajah, the man who spoke truth to power. (1 Kings, 22; 2 Chronicles 19) This compulsive honesty might mark me as a permanent adolescent, but I think a celebration of honesty does have important civic virtues. It is not such a bad thing to assume that others are speaking truth, and then to hold them to their statements.

I tend to accept what others tell me, once. If I find that they have lied or misled, I cut them dead - a fine 19th century tradition of social ostracism that we seem to have dropped. Salesmen, renters, people doing commercial business with me get one lie. Once I find it, I refuse to have any further to do with them. J and I walked out on renters when we were househunting when we caught them in a lie - in one case the man lied for no particular reason or benefit - and we turned and walked out of the house. I may have learned this habit from playing the board game Diplomacy, but it is a habit that suits me.

My approach to truthtelling extends to politics. When I teach the late twentieth century to my students I emphasize one essential similarity between the Clinton and Bush-43 administrations: both tend to use short-term rhetoric. Clinton was long notorious as a waffler and a "pander bear" because he consistently told whatever audience he was facing whatever it was he thought they wanted to hear. All public speakers do this to some extent, but Clinton went farther than most and consequently he regularly contradicted himself. Similarly, when lobbying for legislation on Capital Hill he tended to call Congressmen on the phone and tell them whatever they wanted to hear before they voted Clinton's way. He was good at it. But, each short-term victory came at the cost of long-term losses in credibility. By the time Kenneth Starr got rolling, many folks in Congress were perfectly willing to believe that the Clintons had lied about their financial history because they had all that experience at being pushed and prodded over the phone. As one Representative put it at the start of the impeachment trial: he did not care about Starr's evidence; he knew that Clinton had lied to him and so he was going to vote guilty.

George W. Bush is a similar short-term politician. He tends to tell people what he thinks they want to hear, and he tends to make political decisions for short term reasons. While Kevin Drum and others on the left argue that the Texas Republicans who currently dominate Capital Hill and the White House have a long-term plan for total domination based on hard-right ideology, I believe that most of their actions can be explained by short-term thinking and purely expedient rhetoric. Debts appear in the future, tax cuts come right now, so lets emphasize the present political value and not the future fiscal problems; tax cuts are the order of the day. Some workers might change their votes this month, so lets change tariff policy, and not worry about what it does to future trade policy, balance of trade, overall employment, or total voting patterns; selective protective tariffs are the order of the day. It is all short term thinking.

I think that much of the overblown rhetoric about the Iraq invasion grew out of this short-term political approach to language. The White House had a basis in international law for its intervention in Iraq, that is why they pushed so hard to get UN Resolution 1441 through. What they did not have was a political consensus at home stating that enforcing that resolution was a compelling state interest. So, they pushed and they puffed and they convinced enough people that Saddam Hussein was an immediate and real threat. Some of this rhetoric is coming back to haunt them, and regardless of whether dislodging Saddam Hussein was a good or a bad idea, and regardless of what we have actually found on the ground in Iraq, there is a gap between very specific claims made before the war and what we have actually found on the ground. Either we had a massive intelligence failure, or there was a planned and systematic lie.

I am using the same approach to the Bush administration that I use with my students when they tell me tales of woe and sickness. I believe them, at first. I then look to see what they do. The folks who are telling the truth tend to followup on their statements - I fully expect that the policewoman who forgot that the midterm was today and not Thursday will appear on time for the makeup, do her best, and recover from her goof. Some of the other students who told me stories will surprise me if they appear for the midterm, and will surprise me more if they do well on it. But, I will wait and let them tangle themselves up in their lies, or dig themselves out of their hole. I offer encouragement, this is not a cold and heartless professorius abscondus, but in the end the slackers will reveal themselves.

I have been watching the Bush administration to see if they will also reveal themselves as moral slackers. Anyone can lie once, if they do it again it is a pattern. And while I am willing to give a national politician a little more wiggle room than Jim Steinman gives his fictional characters, I can only go so far.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

No and "No" The

No and "No"

The folks in thepress and on the law blogs have been talking about "No means no." The problem with that is, as a practical matter, a meaningful percentage of women regularly us the word "no" when what they mean is "I want to have sex but I want you to do more to convince me that you want me." One study (unlinked because I read it yesterday and don't remember which blog had it) suggested that about a fifth of university women occasionaly use the word "no" this way.

As a practical matter, any time one person has sexual contect with another without the consent of the other, it is rape. They can use force, or noice, or a power relationship, or shame, or celebrity, but if there is no consent there is no go. (A couple who want to play rape fantasy and have a safe word, have consent so long as the aggressor obeys the safe word.)

So, what should we do? Should we expect women to say "this is rape" when a man goes too far? Should we draw a distinction between saying no and screaming NO? Certainly if we are teaching self defense classes to women to prepare them for future action it is a very good idea to train them to use words and noise to shock a drunken, horny date-rapist into realizing exactly what he is about to do. But these are not useful criteria to bring to a courtroom.

In a trial situation, such as the Kobe Bryant trial that is setting off these speculations, as long as she clearly and firmly says no, she has indicated her lack of consent.

As a man, these discussions lead to a sort of self-searching. Have I, in the past, ever put a date in a situation where I was pressuring for sex, where I disregarded her intentions? I don't think that I have, in part because I tended to mention that I knew the difference between "no," "not yet," and "not tonight" and would abide by them. I did. I am not particularly forceful or dominant in intimate situations. Luckily J does not play word games. That is one of the reasons I like her and one of the reasons why we stick together. If she is tired or not interested or not yet warmed up, she will say so in clear language. She does not play games with words, she does not do the "yes/no/maybe/dangle them on a string" thing. I do not and did not like those games myself. I tended to drop a person like a wet glove if they started to say one thing and mean another, or expect me to guess their thoughts. J and I are both awkward geeks, and we get along well.

That works for us, I still do not know what to say for "he said/she said" situations like the Kobe Bryant trial. I do know that if Macadamia turns out to be a dafter we will do our best to make sure she knows how to scream if she has to.
(Edit 1, added links. Might come back again.)

Posted by Red Ted at 09:38 AM | TrackBack

Homework I assign homework


I assign homework most weeks. In the spirit of the Friday five, I will post the week's homework question on Monday or Tuesday and then give my answer to the question on Friday or Saturday. Keep the answers to about 200 words.

There is no homework this week - they have their midterm - so I will give you last week's question.

Was the United States Constitution a continuation or a repudiation of the principles of the American Revolution?

I should have warned you, I am recycling historical chestnuts for many of these questions. They are not meant to be deep, they are just meant to make the kids think about the material we are covering and then write 200 words or so.

And so to the rest of the day

Posted by Red Ted at 09:19 AM | TrackBack

Morning thoughts This morning

Morning thoughts

This morning we had yet another gorgeous sun rise. The little man and the hound and I started out when the sky was just turning dark crimson and dark blue. We could barely see as we went down the path to the lake. As we walked around the lake the sky kept changing colors and getting brighter. There was light cloud cover high and to the east and the undersides of the clouds were wonderful. By the time we were heading back up the hill half the sky was glowing in shades of gold and apricot. The sun itself was still hiding behind the trees, but it snuck up soon after we got home.

The skies here are much prettier than they were eight miles farther north. I do not know why. I have some thoughts - it might be the little lake (75 yards wide and several miles long), it might be the Delaware River a few miles to the West, or it might just be that the lake opens up the horizon so that I can see more of the sky than I could when we lived underneath trees and surrounded by three-story apartment buildings. Several skies this week, including this morning and last night, have almost been up to Charlottesville standards. It is hard to reach that - Charlottesville's unofficial motto is "yet another beautiful day in a row."

One more thought then off to the office

Posted by Red Ted at 09:17 AM | TrackBack

Midterm day On midterm

Midterm day

On midterm day I get a good look at the oddities of the student at a modern urban university. Most students show up and take the exam - I try to build a moderate level of stress to get them to study. A few students do not show up. I was the good teacher and called them (why did you think I collected your contact information at the start of the semester.) Two were in court, one as a witness the other as a police officer. One had been in a car accident a day earlier, two more have mentally ill parents.

I assume that the stories are true - most are, and the folks who would rather lie than take a midterm are folks who will bomb the makeup just as well as if they had bombed the actual exam. I will print out many copies of the makeup exam, it will be harder than the real exam, and my office will be very crowded on Thursday afternoon.

In the meantime, I will do what I can to comfort them, for we all need comfort.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:50 AM | TrackBack

October 13, 2003

And so it begins.

And so it begins.

I mailed out the first seven job applications today. I decided not to apply to three more, either because they were bad jobs or because I was too intimidated to try for them.

That means seven targetted letters, assorted writing samples, and lots of Fed Ex. Someone (me) forgot to check the calendar last week. I need to get the next tranche out earlier so I can use cheaper shipping.

So far my job searches have gotten me three interviews and no offers. Lets hope for a better showing this time.

In other news, a local state University called me to see if I could teach Western Civ part 2 for them. They run 1660 to the present, which means that it is nicely focused in the era that I know more about. If I can pass the interview and they can pay me, I might make enough this spring to pay for day care.

And back to checking schedules and grading homework.

ps, Is the term "A-shirt" really that obscure?

Posted by Red Ted at 11:26 AM | TrackBack

Thang About eight years


About eight years ago we were at an all-night contra-dance in central Virginia. One of the callers was from Texas. He had a remarkable accent. Among other things, he would call for the dancers to "swang" their partners. He liked to call dances with a lot of swanging; he was also a good caller and a lot of fun.

Afterwards, we started to use swang for swing. Through a process like that of Cockney rhyming slang, we began to use thang for thing. But, a "thang" is not a "thing" - the word had grown more precise meanings in our household vocabulary. A thang is a thing that you do that is distinctly yours, either in that no one else does it or more often because no one else does it the way you do. One of my thangs is making up terrible rhymes on the spot when singing nonsense to the baby. Another of my thangs is that I teach history with a focus on the words and ideas we use to comprehend our surroundings, and on the ways these words and ideas change over time. Popular intellectual history is my thang.

Recently, blogging about teaching, babies, and random mental effluvia has also been my thang.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:48 AM | TrackBack

Random thought I have

Random thought

I have to write this one down to get it out of my head so I can go back to concentrating on Lyman Beecher and the boys.

My blog suffers because I am eclectic. The sex bloggers do their thang (see the nws blogs on the left). The diary bloggers do their thang (see the Cheese over there on my blogroll). The pundits are all over their thang (see the top half of the blogroll.) I think about sex, I have a life, I have opinions on almost every article in the newspaper and on most of the items on pundit-blogs. I could very easily run small blogs specializing in each of these subcategories if I wanted to divide myself up that way.

I do not want to have lots of splintered blogs. I do not have time, or more importantly writing energy, to write about everything that interests me. This is most noticeable with the punditry: I will start thinking about something to punditize, I will even fire up Wordperfect and start writing it up; unless I can finish it fairly quickly, the idea will pass or the baby will cry or I will figure out whatever writing problem I have been stewing over, and I will walk away from the pundit piece. Most of my punditry never ever gets posted - I have a policy against taking serious work energy and using it to research or edit a blog.

I think this is why my blog is so heavily focused on quick impressions of my life - they are things that I can write up in the course of a single study break. I do write many of them offline. You can usually tell the offline entries - they are more polished, more grammatical, and do not wander quite as much. Even so, each of them takes only a couple of minutes to write and polish.

In any case, I am something of a frustrated pundit. I have opinions on everything, I will not post an opinion piece without putting some time into it, and I do not choose to take the time. So, I almost never opine on the questions of the day.

And back to Beecher

Posted by Red Ted at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

Writing sample? I was

Writing sample?

I was revising chapter three again this morning hoping to get it clean enough to use as a writing sample by noon. I can get the text clean enough; I will not have the footnotes in order. Do I send this place that I think would be a really good match a draft chapter with gaps in the footnotes but tight prose and a good argument or do I send them my published article, tightly polished, with a logical hole in the middle of the piece that you can drive a truck through?

If I can get through the last few pages quickly, I will send the big one.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:40 AM | TrackBack

October 12, 2003

I do not have to beat my wife

I do not have to beat my wife. She does it for me.

J has been doing a very good job of beating herself since long before I met her. That sounds terrible, I know. The funny thing is, she claims that she does not mean to do it. She just walks into things - her little toe on one foot is permanently fused. She walks into more things - she has quite the collection of scars on her shins. She has ripped the meniscus in her knee not once but twice - she claims it was a dancing injury - and has been scoped for it.

She did the best job of beating herself up when she was figure skating. Her first ice rink had grooves in the ice, her rental skates got caught, she fell and slid into the wall, and for the next six weeks she wore a sling because of the hairline fracture in her radius. In a different incident she bruised her tailbone and bruised some of the inner workings of her SI joint. And yet, she kept going back. She even woke up early in the morning to go to the rink, fling herself in the air, and bruise her hips and legs. For a while I would, before hugging and certainly before anything further, first have to check to see where the bruises were.

Lately, she has not been beating herself up as much. Now the kids beat her for me. The little man caught her a good one in the jaw earlier today, and while he did not knock her out or fracture anything, she has been sore ever since. His other new game has been the love tackle where he gets two feet on the ground, one arm around the front of your neck, and drives a hug through you like a blitzing linebacker (only cuter). Meanwhile Macadamia (due at the end of February) has been punching and kicking up a storm.

Maybe I should get an a-shirt one of those sleeveless t-shirts to wear around the house. I wonder if you can get those shirts in the 18-month size?

Edit - clarified last line for the Carnival.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:57 AM | TrackBack

October 11, 2003

Another silly poll -

Another silly poll - putting this one up so J can take it too.

According to the Belief-O-Matic, I am Reform Jewish. The funny thing is, I thought very hard about converting to Reform Judaism before deciding that I was more comfortable retaining some Christian rituals and simply worshiping from the "courtyard of the temple" when I went with J. J prefers the worship practice at Conservative Jewish Shul, so that is where we go.

Your Results:
The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.

Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.

How did the Belief-O-Matic do? Discuss your results on our message boards.

1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (96%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (93%)
4. Bahá'í Faith (87%)
5. Sikhism (84%)
6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (82%)
7. Neo-Pagan (81%)
8. Orthodox Judaism (72%)
9. Mahayana Buddhism (68%)
10. Islam (67%)
11. Secular Humanism (64%)
12. New Age (64%)
13. Theravada Buddhism (62%)
14. Jainism (61%)
15. Orthodox Quaker (59%)
16. Hinduism (52%)
17. Scientology (50%)
18. Taoism (48%)
19. New Thought (47%)
20. Nontheist (39%)
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (38%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (36%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (36%)
24. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (33%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (31%)
26. Roman Catholic (31%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (18%)

Posted by Red Ted at 11:22 AM | TrackBack

The Friday Five -

The Friday Five - what's a day between friends.

1. Do you watch sports? If so, which ones?

I watch pro football on TV, rarely for more than half an hour at a sitting these days. I will sometimes watch college football or pro baseball on TV. One of my favorite naps is where I turn on a sporting event on the TV, lie down on the couch without my glasses, and drift off to the sound of the crowd and the white noise chatter of the announcers.

2. What/who are your favorite sports teams and/or favorite athletes?

I tend to watch the Philadelphia Eagles. I check my undergraduate team in the sporting papers, but they are division III NESCAC and are never televised.

3. Are there any sports you hate?

There are none I hate, there are many I am apathetic about. I honestly do not know and could not care who is the current middleweight boxing champion, who leads the NASCAR or IROC, or who plays first base for the Yankees.

4. Have you ever been to a sports event?

Yes. I had season tickets to the Eagles for a couple of years during the Buddy Ryan era with a buddy. We were up in the 700 level with the drunks and rowdies. It was fun. I left town about the time we could have moved down to the 600 level, but we would not have gone down. Sure, you see the game better, but you lose the fun.

I have also been to occasional big time college football games while in grad school, to a fair number of Phillies games (sit in the bleachers, good fun), to see the Sixers (once), Flyers (once), a few college hoops games, and during undergrad I caught all the home football games, some away football games, some men's rugby games, and many women's rugby games.

5. Do/did you play any sports (in school or other)? How long did you play?

I played in high school. It was a small school. I took two or three varsity letters in track, running sprints and throwing weights, one in cross country my junior year, one in soccer for managing the team my sophomore year, and one in football for being a warm body my senior year. I was a senior, so I got in on enough special teams to get the letter. The scary thing is that as a 5'6", 140 pound senior I was not the smallest of the defensive linemen. If I had gone out the year before as well I probably would have started (strong for my size, and all that sprinting in track made me very quick off the ball).

Of them all, cross country had the hardest practices, football made the biggest difference in my personality while I was playing.

That was easy enough!

Posted by Red Ted at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

Job applications. The first

Job applications.

The first set of job applications are due on Wednesday of next week. I help off on sending them because 1, I let myself get eaten by the grading and 2, because I wanted to be as far along my revisions as possible before I signed my name to a letter saying I was almost done.

Well, grading took too long, and I am still looking at chapter 3. But, the letters will go out anyhow.

This is a much thinner year than last year. Of the half-dozen jobs with deadlines in mid October, there are two good jobs in my field, another three or four so so jobs, and another three that I am underqualified for. I am not a senior scholar, and I only have one weak publication.

Still, nothing ventured nothing gained. And out they will go.

And so to revise my stock letter

Posted by Red Ted at 09:06 AM | TrackBack

Site meters I am

Site meters

I am playing with site meters again. The first two do not agree with each other. Why? because I am both vain and curious and I want to see how many (few) people visit my ramblings.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:56 AM | TrackBack

I put a provocative

I put a provocative comment on Kevin Drum's blog talking about short-term goals and the Bush (43) and Clinton presidencies. I should probably elaborate on that - but not at the expense of getting real work done. I might have something later this weekend.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:26 AM | TrackBack

Fall Blues Why do

Fall Blues

Why do we call them the fall blues, when the colors for fall are the red and orange of the fading leaves, or the greys and browns of clouds and bare branches?

In the last few days I have had a couple of students come to me to explain that they had fallen into a funk, had stopped going to class, and needed to get their academic lives back on track. I gave them what advice and encouragement I could, steered them to counseling, and worked up recovery plans to get them back up to speed in my classes.

Looking back at late September, I wonder how much of my getting stuck in grading was also related to a fall funk. I certainly went through a couple of not very productive weeks; I have had a little more trouble with my sleep than sometime, and the light is indeed fading.

But, the leaves are just barely turning - it is almost too early for seasonal emotional troubles.

In any case, I am working on job applications, and while the jobs in New Hampshire and Vermont are not as good as I first thought, the jobs in Washington State and industrial Ohio look better than I had first thought. All of them, other than the Ohio job and a not very good job in West Virginia, are far far to the north. I would have to invest heavily in full spectrum light bulbs.

We use artificial light to correct for the fading colors of the fall; electric sunlight keeps us on a more even keel if only we can get it. Mechanical light makes a fine metaphor for, well, something - especially when we remember all the other metaphors that use light. We had the enlightenment, that period when people praised themselves for spreading, well, new light, and helping others see. The Great Awakening was also built around the "new light" - odd that the illuminati, or enlightened ones, were so strongly opposed by the new lights. Light is a powerful metaphor for knowledge and ability, whether in these cases or in Plato's cave. And false light, mechanical sunlight, brings happiness and, in another meaning of the word, lightness to our emotional selves. Franklin always held that we can change ourselves by acting in a new way, rather than seeking for the natural he was perfectly willing to create naturalness - I forget how he referred to the artificial but I suspect that he praised artifice as skill and hated it as pretense.

But, false light can create happiness. One of the many things that makes me happy is hot peppers, and with the turn to the fall they are dying unless I put them in pots, an environment even more "artificial" than my garden and bring them inside. But even inside our windows are not big enough, and the baby is so destructive, that I fear the peppers will not survive if I just leave them out. I shall have to put them in the basement, and then talk to the marijuana growers to get the right combination of lights, heats, and timers to grow a crop of hot peppers in the basement. That will indeed be an artificial environment, driven by false light. But, it will indeed make me happy.

And back to research jobs - that was one heck of a ramble wasn't it.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:57 AM | TrackBack

October 10, 2003

Hoorah, Hooray, a writing

Hoorah, Hooray, a writing day today.

I am taking most of this morning as a writing day - going through chapter three again and copy editing. I found a couple of awkward bits, a couple of bad transitions, and a couple of paragraphs that said nothing and had to go. I still have a logic problem where I set up a problem, mention a couple of people who talked about it, give a close reading to a primary source, and then seque directly into a new problem or issue raised by that source - without ever resolving the initial problem. It gives the whole thing a strong Alice's Restaurant feel, even after I don't know how many drafts where I tried to keep myself on tack. The argument itself is tight, I just don't like the feeling of indeterminacy I am getting out of the middle sections of this chapter.

And so to shower, eat lunch, and meet a student - she probably wants to talk about her paper.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:02 PM | TrackBack

October 09, 2003

Constitution It was Constitution


It was Constitution day. We opened with housekeeping - returning the papers, talking about Tuesday's midterm, then dove into Constitution.

I need to revise the first section of this outline; it did not flow well. I started with the Articles and the problems of the Articles. I emphasized the Newburgh conspiracy, Rhode Island inflation, inability to fulfill the Treaty of Paris, British forts on the frontiers, internal trade barriers, and an unwillingness to pay their debts. I placed the whole thing in the context of 18th-century states as institutions devoted to collecting taxes, borrowing money, and paying soldiers, and argued that because the US under the Articles was unable to collect taxes or pay its debts that it was not taken seriously as an 18th century state.

I then did the short version of Shays's rebellion - map of MA on the board, laid out merchants, eastern regions, western farmers. I ran through western grievances and made it clear, by using revolutionary language to describe the dispute, that the western farmers were using the rhetoric and ideals of the Am Rev against the eastern leaders who were trying to perpetuate and continue the Am Rev. I did not do the roleplay exercise, it takes too much time.

From there I broke, and this was a break in the rhythm of the class. I turned to religion, quickly summarized what the continental congress had done, then ran over MA tightening its establishment while loosening test acts, the middle states loosening both establishments (weak to begin with) and test acts, and Virginia doing Jefferson's statute. Note - assign the Jefferson statute, Madison's memorial and remonstrance, or both next time.

The religion mini-lecture broke the buildup to Philadelphia. It should have come first, or in another class. I probably should have cut it and used the time to talk about this week's homework question: "Was the US Constitution a continuation or a repudiation of Revolutionary ideals?" We are long on lecture, short on discussion.

Finally, we got to Philadelphia. I introduce Madison, gave them the VA and NJ plans, ran through the great compromise, and briefly explained split sovereignty. I compared it to the drawings I did earlier on colonial v British notions of the imperial constitution - sort of a Jack Greene light. I took the last couple of minutes to cover constitution and slavery - import restrictions and the 3/5 clause.

Tuesday is the midterm, next week we get to play with Ratification and the First Congress. Reminder - keep ratifications short short short.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

October 08, 2003

Sleep Trouble I sometimes

Sleep Trouble

I sometimes have trouble sleeping. Last night was one of those times. But last night was different, last night the little man also had trouble sleeping. I am now very tired indeed.

Baby was cranky at dinner, skipped dinner, had a bottle, refused to sleep, got a second wind, played, got cranky, had a second bottle, and went to bed around 9:00. I goofed - through much of the evening J had been waiting for me to tag out from grading and take the baby, and I had been waiting for J to tag out from baby duty and give me the baby. She got cranky because she felt stuck with the baby while she had things to do for work. Baby to bed, J went to bed around 10:00. I stayed up to work on the exam for Thursday. Around 11:00 I finished that subset of the exam and decided that I was tired and not very functional. I was also not sleepy. Got to bed around 12:00 and drifted lightly - the weather warmed up and I think the furnace was set too high.

A little after 1:00 the little man woke up and started to screech; it was a horrendous sound. I tried rocking him, tried giving him his pinkie, tried moving to the bed in his room, all to no avail. We went down and had something to drink; little man had some milk and some cheerios and part of a slice of challah, then we went up again around 1:35 or so. He was wet, so I changed him. He was very wet, as was the bottom of his undershirt. J had added an extra layer because he had woken up cold the night before. I do not know if he sweated up his shirt, if he spilled milk on it while leaving his blanket-sleeper dry, or if I had squeezed urine out of the diaper while holding the baby, but his shirt was wet. I was putting the bottom of the sleeper back together so I could open the top and remove the T-shirt when J came in. She sent me back to bed and took over on baby. Baby was asleep within ten minutes.

Around 2:00 J got up to get a snack, and I got up to get a snack a few minutes later. I was hot and hungry and not sleepy. My pulse was going pretty fast, in the eighties, and I could not settle down to sleep. Niacin and the frustration of screaming baby seem to have teamed up to keep me awake. J had some cereal, I had some yoghurt, J went to sleep, I stayed awake until almost 4:00. Finally I got to bed. At 6:15 the baby woke up screaming again. I took him downstairs and fed him breakfast, then fell asleep in the kitchen chair while "watching" the baby while J showered and got ready. Once she came down, I went back to bed and slept until 10:00. I then took a little while to get woken, to walk the dawg, and to eat. I am just now blogging before starting my work day.

I am sometimes tempted to seek a prescription for that new tiredness drug.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:12 PM | TrackBack

Dult I love to


I love to teach. I do not like to grade. I grade slowly and I have trouble keeping myself at it. Teaching, alas, means grading. Unles, of course, I end up at a research university where TA s or hired graders can help me out. Even a MA University should have grad students I can farm the grading off to.

It is a mark of adulthood that you are able to make yourself do things that you do not like to do. Sometimes I worry that I am not yet a dult. I am very self-indulgent, something that really bugs J and that bugs me as well.

And so to fetch the baby

Posted by Red Ted at 03:41 AM | TrackBack

October 07, 2003

Morning Twilight Fall is

Morning Twilight

Fall is well on its way. It was cold last night and dark this morning. I woke at 5:00, in part because I was cold, in part because I had to pee, but in the end because the baby was crying. I had been having a strange dream - we were moving from one apartment to another apartment, in the winter. I was married to J, and I was at the same time back in undergraduate. The apartments were very like those that J's friend C used to live in, a place I only visited once or twice when C and her boyfriend were moving house. In my dream, I took a break from moving to walk the dawg. She went out and peed on a piece of ice, and it froze instantly. I then peed on the same ice and it also froze.

I got out of bed, peed properly, and then got the crying baby. He had gotten cold. I brought him into bed with us. He quickly warmed up as long as I had my arms around him, and he went back to sleep. I did not sleep. I had a baby on my arm, and the baby's free hand was flailing and flailing. It is hard to get to sleep when someone keeps poking you.

I drifted a little, and then the 6:00 alarm rang. By 6:30, the baby the dawg and I were off for the morning walk. I was quicker out the door than sometimes for I had already gone through the mazy period of just waking. We walked around the middle lake, about a half-hour walk. The little man was wearing his new orange hat and a sweatshirt over his pajamas. His hands were cold when we returned. We did the entire walk, from start to finish, in the nautical twighlight of the morning. At the start there was just barely enough light to make it down the root-filled path from our street to the lake. When we were done the sky was glowing and perhaps if there were no trees we might have seen the sun. It feels wrong, and autumnal, to take a full walk and be back before the sun is above the trees.

I like the autumn. I like the crisp air, the smell of apples, the aromas of the seasons. I do not like the fading light. I sometimes have mild seasonal depression when the leaves fall and the skies turn to their many shades of grey and pearl. Yesterday was an apple cider day: for most of the day I wanted apple cider, the air felt like apple cider and hot cider donuts. Fall sunshine is a very good thing; fall darkness is not so good.

All in all, it was a good morning. I have prepared class and now I get to go grade and then teach.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:16 AM | TrackBack

The One and the

The One and the Many

Today was the One and the Many. Because we are running late we also fought the American Revolution. I linked the two through Continental Congress, even though I cut back on what I usually say about Congress and its actions to hold the colonies together.

We opened with a brief discussion of the midterm next week and with an apology from me for not getting the papers back. I have had them for two weeks - and that is too long. I just have trouble making myself grade more than a couple at a sitting. Even now, I am writing up class rather than grading papers.

We went on to the war. I laid out war aims for Congress and for Britain, focusing on Britain and military conquest v Congress and political goals. I argue that Congress wanted to 1, hold the colonies together, 2, maintain a viable field army, and 3, get European recognition.

I then talked about the army itself. I gave them the John Keegan take on 18th century armies, emphasizing the need for drill and practice and discipline. I argued that militia were not all that useful in the field, invaluable as political police - the Ed Countryman interpretation. I argued that the only reason that the colonists won was French intervention. Thus, the turning points of the war are Saratoga, which convinced France to come on in, and Valley Forge, where the Continental Army learned how to hold the field as a proper 18th-century Army. Once Congress had proved that it could fulfill the two basic functions of an 18th-century state (Raise taxes and field an army), France helped and French soldiers and the French navy won the war.

I had to leave things out, and what I cut out entirely was Ben Franklin goes to Paris. It is a wonderful story, but something had to go. So, no Franklin changing his modish fashionable clothing that he had worn in Philadelphia for homespun and a coonskin cap once he hit Paris, no mention that the coonskin cap was the badge of the Paxton Boys - Franklin's longstanding political enemies in Pennsylvania, and no mention of Franklin swimming in the Seine, romancing the ladies, or making use of his Philosophical connections. Perhaps some of those will sneak back into the French Revolution, but I doubt it. I always take too long on the French Revolution.

Instead, we went to State Constitutions. I ran them quickly through the constitution-writing frenzy of 1776, I summarized the early state constitutions, pointed out that they would be re-written in the 1780s, 1830s, 1850s, and then intermittently until the present, and gave them the 1776 PA constitution to read. I pointed out the difference between written and traditional constitutions, linked written constitutions to colonial charters and the form of the constitutions to the colonial tensions between governor and legislature, and then moved on to the contagion of liberty.

I organize my discussion of the contagion of liberty around the Quoak Walker case in Massachusetts. I read them article 1 of the 1776 VA Declaration of Right:

All men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
I read that twice, then asked them if anything seemed odd. They missed it, so I read them Article 1 of the 1780 MA Constitution:
All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
I read that twice and then asked what was different between the two statements.

The second time, they got it. Both sections jumped on the bit about "entering into a state of society" and both sections figured out that that language meant that Virginians could declare independence in the name of inherent rights while still denying the exercise of those rights to their slaves who, by definition, are legally dead and outside any organized society.

I then told them about Quoak Walker in MA suing his master for assault and battery, it going to the superior Court, and the justice relying on Article 1 of the Constitution to declare slavery inconsistent with the laws of MA. This was an obiter dicta, his decision was effective only on Walker himself because this was before organized judicial review, but his words were taken as the formulation of what most people thought, and slavery in MA faded away. The Massachusetts legislature had no idea that they were abolishing slavery when they adopted that language in 1780, but it turns out that Revolutionary ideals had radical consequences that the revolutionaries themselves had not expected. Liberty was contagious.

In both sections I then lectured briefly on contagious liberty and the change from Winthrop's City on a Hill spreading the religious commonwealth to all the land to the Revolutionary generation's Republic on a Hill spreading the republican commonwealth to all the lands. I included a brief rundown of other events: South American independence, US in world affairs, and brought it to the present by arguing that the underlying goal behind the US presence in Iraq is to settle the Middle East by bringing contagious liberty to the region. I pointed out that this was a noble endeavor, and a high-risk strategy, and that I hoped it worked. The very smart lady in the second section was grinning and looking skeptical. I think I would have fun talking politics with her.

That pretty much ran us out of time. Both sections had a brief discussion on whether the conflict of 1775-1783 was a Revolution or a Civil War, both sections leaned towards Revolution, and because Boyer et al do not use this question to frame their discussion of the Am Rev the way that Norton et al do, none of them worked out the connection. The smart single mom in the afternoon section was right on the verge of getting it, but I jumped the gun and explained it for them rather than working them through the connections. I probably should have taken the time and made them figure out that it was an trans-Atlantic civil war that had Revolutionary consequences and that was fought as a Civil War among colonists and among British Citizens from both sides of the Atlantic.

The last couple of minutes I used to run over the Northwest Ordinance. I hit Onuf's point that the key here was that new states would enter the Confederation as equals - Ohio with a couple of thousand score voters would be the equal of Virginia with hundreds of thousands of voters.

We are back on track, in large part because I cut Shays's rebellion and Franklin in Paris. Now I have to finish grading papers, write an exam, and grade all the stacked up homework. I am also a week or two behind on editing my dissertation AND I have job applications that need to go out on Friday. Yoicks!

I am glad I wrote this up - it is good for me to write up the class I just taught. It lets me see exactly what I covered and where I may have gone for too much coverage at the expense of understanding. I lecture too much sometimes.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:18 AM | TrackBack

October 06, 2003

Potty Language It was

Potty Language

It was in July, perhaps early August, so the little man was about 11 months old. We were in Sears. We had gone to get baby clothes and something or other from the house, and after doing the real shopping we were wandering through the tool section window-shopping on toys for Dad. I had the little man in my arms and was holding something or other in my off hand. A couple were looking at some of the power tools. It is odd, this was a few months ago, and I remember them but I do not remember what they were looking at, routers and drills I think, but they could have been looking at shop vacs.

She was medium height, perhaps a little taller than I am, blonde, in her late 30s. She had some sort of shirt and shorts combination on. He was talking to her and he was the one who caught my eye. He was short, shaved or crew cut, wearing a muscle t shirt. He had a thick fireplug torso - he either worked construction, lifted weights, or both. His left shoulder was covered with a large tribal tattoo. It ran out from under his shirt and looked like tiger stripes. He looked like he was naturally hairy and that he shaved to show off the tattoo. I am vaguely interested in tattoos, and while I have yet to find anything I would be willing to wear for the rest of my life I do tend to look at other people's ink to see what they have done. As a result we ended up close enough to hear them talking.

He was going on about, I think, the tools. It was hard to tell because every other word was fuck or fucking. There was a constant stream of profanity coming from that aisle. He might have been permanently angry; he might have been accustomed to talking in this manner; he might have been having a bad day. I do not know and I try to limit my judgements.

I walked away, carrying the little man. He is old enough that he is beginning to comprehend language. I explained that that man had a potty mouth, that he was talking in a very boring manner, and that potty language was what you used when you did not have any better way to express yourself. I repeated that it was boring, and we kept shopping. I try to limit my judgments, and I did not feel like provoking a confrontation on that day at that time over that issue, so I waited until after we had wandered away to explain potty language to the little man.

The funny thing is that we do repeat our parents. Dad was in the navy during the 1950s; he worked his way through law school as a deck hand on Great Lakes freighters after the war. He knows the language, he has worked with people who had a working vocabulary composed of nothing but four letter words. He does not care for it, does not use it, and taught me that an overuse of that language is boring.

When the little man is a little older I will talk with him again about the use and abuse of potty language. I do not mind that he will learn it, you can not help but learn it. I do hope that he will use potty language as I do, as a shock word that gains its effect because it is so rarely used.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:26 AM | TrackBack

October 05, 2003

Butterflies and Barnacles. J

Butterflies and Barnacles.

J is a butterfly. I am a barnacle. In social situations, she will flit about the room, going from person to person, seeking out particular individuals, contacting them, and then moving on. I tend to drift about for a while until I find a well-located spot, usually in the kitchen or near the food. I then attach myself there and keep my eyes open for any interesting people who might wander past. She seeks out her friends; I wait for them to come to me.

We both have much more fun at parties when we recognize this about ourselves and do not try to make the other person accommodate their movements to our pattern.

There is one exception to the pattern: I love to dance and J is slow to hit the dance floor. If there is dancing, I will grab J, her friends, my friends, and anyone who gets within 20 feet of me, and drag them onto the dance floor with me. J will let herself be talked into dancing a little, but then her feet will hurt, she will feel self-conscious, or she will see someone on the other side of the room that she just HAS to talk to.

Can you be a dancing barnacle?

Posted by Red Ted at 10:54 AM | TrackBack

October 03, 2003

Rules for a successful

Rules for a successful relationship

J is trying on clothes. I am working on class prep and commenting on her new purchases. As I do so, I am once again reminded of three basic rules for maintaining a successful relationship:

  1. She is always beautiful
  2. Some clothing accentuates that beauty; some clothing disguises it.
  3. If you can truthfully tell her that something looks terrible, she will believe you when you later tell her that something looks good.

It has become a cliche. Woody at /gu comics has turned it into a running joke. And yet, it is a joke because it is true: women are more likely than men to seek fashion advice, and women are more likely than men to measure their self worth by what people think of their outward appearance. Most of us have figured out the difference between "Does this make me look fat?" and "How does this look on me?" The first is a call for reassurance, the second is a question that needs a practical answer.

The trick, for a guy, is to always provide both answers, if only because it is too easy to hear the second question when she has asked the first question. So work on variations on: "The color on that is wonderful with your skin, but it is pulling a little at the hips" or "You have such a beautiful neck, why not wear something that focuses attention on it?"

If she thinks you are feeding her a line, she will get even crankier than if you said something bad straight out. This can be dangerous, which is where the third rule comes in handy. If you can truthfully tell her that something looks hideous on her and do so in memorable language, she will remember it. Oddly enough, being critical once or twice buys you almost endless credibility as you tell her she is beautiful. Of course, even when you are critical you should remember to say bad things about the clothing, not about the woman. I am still reaping the benefits of the night eight or nine years ago when I told her that the new cheap stirrup pants she bought made her look like she had crapped her pants and was walking around with a load in her drawers. (They did, they were a really cheesy pair of pants.) I, of course, followed up by adding that she has beautiful legs and that it was a shame that the droopy-drawered pants were disguising the wonderful line of her hamstrings.

Of course, mixing a critique of the clothes with praise of the lady requires that you learn something about the way your honey looks and about the way your honey thinks about her appearance. J has magnificent legs - long and shapely with well defined hamstrings. Rowrr. She has a short torso and does not look good in clothing that emphasizes the midriff and hips; not surprisingly she does not like to show her belly even when she has been working out and has a firm flexible torso. Starting with these basic traits I can usually say something that is both flattering and useful.

If you can make the combination work, you get the benefit of pleasing her ego while steering her towards the sorts of clothing that you like to admire on her. These are both very nice rewards.

Whoops. She is done with the fashion show, and I should put this away and go back to work.

And so to prep more classes.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:20 AM | TrackBack

Little Man? I call

Little Man?

I call the baby "little man" fairly often. He is. He is a perfect little man - we got very lucky and grabbed the happy good-looking baby out of the sack. Sometimes I call him Mr. Man; this seems to be a recent occurence for I have only noticed it over the last week or two.

We have another baby coming, due February. We do not yet know if it will be a boy or a girl. I have been trying to figure out what is the female equivalent of "Little Man"? I do not like the rhythm of "little woman;" I do not like the implications of "little lady;" I do not want to use a cutesy name like "kitten." For now, my best thought is to use "Miz FIRST-NAME". To remind me of that I have been calling the little man Mr. Sam, something J's Dad does. I do not really like the feel of that name, but I do like the feel of Miz Norberta (Norberta is the standin that we are using as a placeholder for the real names on our short list. )

I think that my caution about names for a baby girl is out of place. We do not even know what is on deck yet, and my family runs to boys. And yet, I keep reading about the difficulties that many women and girls face due to pressures and expectations. I do want my children to grow up self-directed and self-confident, able to ignore or at least adjust external pressures and external exectations. The girls are getting both trucks and dolls, just as the boy is getting both trucks and stuffed animals, and all the kids will get the full range of balls and sporting equipment. I do believe that the words we use shape (not determine, but shape) the thoughts we hold and the assumptions we make; words are how we articulate our ideas and our mazeway, our understanding of the world, is in turn made up of those ideas. I want to think that an awareness of words, on top of all the other parenting things, will help create caring, self-confident kids.

Names do matter. I will continue to think about use-names for the children. Miz Norberta is not all that bad, even if I do not care for Mr. Sam.

And so to go grade papers.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:34 AM | TrackBack

I feel busy J

I feel busy

J feels busier - she needs more sleep what with the baby on board - but I also feel overburdened. J feels a little cranky with me. I spent my after dinner time last night babysitting and watching a video (The Rookie on DVD), then I read Sports Illustrated before coming to bed. So I looked like a lazy bum, and when I took baby duty between 4:00 and 5:00 J slept through it. I was hard to wake this morning, J had to wait for me, and she got out of the house late. It appears to be my fault.

Things to do today or this weekend:
Grade papers
Edit chapter 3
Grade homework
Prep for Tuesday
Mail a book, pick up mail
Get a haircut
Pick up the little man from day care.
Grocery shopping
Cook meals
Move the Azalea from the front to the back of the house
Dig up the hot peppers and put them into pots for the winter
Arrange with the kids down the street to pressure-wash and refinish the back deck
Walk the hound
Supervise the cleaner when he comes by
High Holy Days

There is more, on the list downstairs, but it is a LOT. I did feel the need to write up yesterday's class before I got started.

One more thought then to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:23 AM | TrackBack

Revolution I Yesterday we

Revolution I

Yesterday we had our class on the Revolution. As I usually do, I focused on George Washington for this. Washington is so very important for 1775-1796 that I make sure that we do a good biographical thang on him.

Washington holds an unusual position in the national pantheon. On the one hand, he is the indispensible man - not for the war itself as Nathaniel Green and some of the other generals were also quite capable, but for the aftermath. If he were not there, the guys in Philadelphia in 1787 would have written a very different document with a much weaker chief executive. If GW had not put his prestige behind the Constitution it would not have been ratified. Everyone knows that GW is very important. But, very few people really know much about him. So, I decided a couple of years ago when planning the survey that it would be a very good idea to focus on GW the whole man.

I opened by asking the kids what they knew about GW. We had just read a mess of his letters and documents:

  • George Washington to Bryan Fairfax, Aug 24, 1774 (why resist),
  • Thomas Jefferson and the Continental Congress: Declaration of Independence (adopted version) July 4, 1776,
  • Washington to John Hancock, Dec 5, 1776 (militia),

  • Washington to John Hancock, Sept 11, 1777 (Battle of Brandywine),
  • Washington, General Orders, Dec 17,1777 (Valley Forge),
  • Washington, General Orders, May 5, 1778 (Celebrate French alliance),
  • Alexander Hamilton to Philip Schuyler, Feb 18 1781 (AH quarrels with GW),
  • Washington to Charles Cornwallis, Oct 17, 1783 (Yorktown),
  • Washington to Congress, Dec 23, 1783 (resigns).

I had really hoped that the kids would be able to tease something out of those letters. The morning section caught Washington's prickly disposition from his quarrel with Hamilton - they called it arrogance, I called it temper. The morning section also talked about the cherry tree, which gave me a chance to deliver a canned 5 minute spiel on mythmaking and the founders, and on the differences between the real guys and the Mason Weems plaster saints. The afternoon class wanted to talk more about GW as a general, they did not realize where they got the idea, but they repeated Hamilton's critique of GW as a battlefield general.

From there I went into my canned GW bio. I tried doing a stand-up thing with a student 6'2", a student 5'8", a student 5'6" and a student 5'4" standing side by side to illustrate the heights of Washington, the average continental regular, the average British regular, and the average British marine. I then went into the short spiel on heights in history. This was a bad idea, not the best use of time. I need to remember to drop the bit on heights.

We talked about GW the land speculator, GW the planter, GW the highly effective businessman - I included the distillery, GW the slaveholder, GW the local elite, and GW the moderate enlightenment man. I pointed out that GW always talks about Providence rather than about God, and that he insisted that the Continental army attend Divine services regularly. I made what I thought was a nice contrast between Franklin's self-improvement where he teaches himself how to write in style and Washington's self-improvement focusing on manners. Next time I use GW letters I will need to include the list of rules to live by. It will be useful here and I will be able to refer back to them when I talk about the transition from genteel to democratic society in the early 19th century.

Once we had GW down I recapped the tail end of the imperial crisis. I really should have done this Tuesday, but did not because I spent Tuesday catching up on the British Empire. We spent too long on Franklin on Thursday of last week and it has me about half an hour off sync. I focused on Adams' argument that the "real revolution took place in the hearts of the American people long before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord" and used that as a kickoff point to talk about creating shadow governments, committees of correspondence, sons of liberty, and the like. This was important stuff and I presented it badly. It really did belong with the rest of the Imperial Crisis and I do need to think about how best to present the story of shadow government - I started with Sons of Liberty and Committees of Correspondence and what I should have done was start with Maier's point about hue and cry, posse comitas, militia, and all the other instances where the people police themselves. Then I could have shown how the Imperial Crisis simply changed the norms and direction that the people used, how the Sons of Liberty and the Committees of Correspondence took up administrative competancy from the local governments that were dissolved or paralyzed by the Crisis, and how the radicals seized legitimacy from the Crown through these shadow governments long before the crisis turned violent. It all comes back to getting through Franklin more quickly.

From there we dug into GW's letters. I really like that letter from GW to Fairfax: it contains a precis of almost every colonial argument for independece, it shows the writing style of the Republic of Letters, and it brings up the oddity of slave holders terrified that, if they did not stand up to the British, they would be reduced to the same condition as the black Slaves that they "govern with such Arbitrary power." This is always a good talking point and it let me re-emphasize the Virginian approach to liberty with a binary black-white, slave-free, dependent-independent mentality co-existing with an awareness of status, gradations, and patron-client relations within the white community.

Finally, with half an hour left, we declared independence. I gave a close reading of the Dec, emphasizing the preamble and the penultimate paragraph, emphasizing Jefferson's genius for taking the commonplace ideas and wrapping them in compelling prose, emphasizing the way the document is rooted in enlightenment social thought, and pointing out the differences between Jefferson's accusation against the British people and the final document's appeal for them to join the Colonists in defending British liberties.

I never did get to the war, to 18th century armies, to war goals, or any of that good stuff. I will need to fight the war in the first half hour on Tuesday, then jump into state constitution making. We had about 5 minutes left at the end of each section and we used that to start talking about the homework for this week: "Was the conflict of 1775-1783 a Revolution or a Civil War?" They agreed that it was a hard question - harder with this textbook than with Norton's A People and a Nation because Norton uses that question to frame the chapter while Boyer Enduring Vision never brings it up. I did not collect homework but told them that we would be talking about that question on Tuesday.

So, for Tuesday, it will be:

Fight the War
Was it a Revoluton or a Civil War?
State Constitutions
The Contagion of Liberty
The Northwest Territory

I think I am going to have to cut out my long section on Shays' rebellion to make it all fit. I can do that.

And so to finish planning my day.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:19 AM | TrackBack

Argumentation 101 I am

Argumentation 101

I am grading papers today. I just told a student that when they argue against someone, they have a moral responsibility to summarize their opponent's position fairly and accurately. You can not simply ignore their evidence and appeal to the emotions of the reader.

As I wrote those words, I was struck by the extent to which I have internalized some of the norms of the nineteenth century clergymen I study, and by the extent to which twenty-first century political discourse has fallen away from those norms. My guys, particularly the widely respected guys like Charles Hodge of Princeton or Nathan Bangs of the Methodist Episcopal Church, made a very clear distinction between good and bad controversies. Bad controversies were marked by people twisting their opponents arguments, extending their opponents positions to outlandish extremes, or selectively engaging their rhetorical foes. These arguments almost always degenerated; they are certainly no fun at all to read. Good controversies tended to engage their opponents full points, to go out of their way to summarize their foes positions, and if they did argue from extrapolation they kept that extrapolation to the main points of their opponents position.

In contrast, the norm these days, especially in the political blogs I read, is to engage in all the attributes of a bad controversy. People assume that the best way to beat their foe is to savage them, dehumanize them, turn the argument away from the key points, and otherwise weasel their way through. The recent discussion about Valerie Plame and White House leaks has shown many of the worst aspects of this rhetorical style.

It is much easier to make a weasel argument than it is to fairly summarize your opponents position. And, if you are good about the summary, you may very well convince some of your readers that your foe has the better of it. (Ben Franklin, after all, was converted to Deism by reading polemical tracts against Deism) That is a risk we take, but to do otherwise is intellectually dishonest. And frankly, if someone is intellectually dishonest in the manner in which they argue, it destroys any faith I might have about the merits of their position.

I doubt that I will change any minds or styles in blogistan or talk radio land. But, perhaps I can convince some of the kids to take arguments seriously and to doubt people who refuse to take their opponents seriously. That would be something.

And back to grade.

Edit: Timothy Burke has a similar take on the moral obligation to be true to your sources. He is talking about historians working with primary documents rather than polemics taking their opponents positions, but there is an essential similarity between our positions.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:44 AM | TrackBack

October 02, 2003

This really has become

This really has become a teaching blog.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:42 AM | TrackBack

September 30, 2003

Imperial Crisis We started

Imperial Crisis

We started into the three-class sequence on the revolution today. Because we had spent so much time on colonial society last week I had to take the top half hour and lay out the workings of the imperial system today. So, I did.

I took a different tack this time through; I framed the entire question using James II and the Jacobites. I put the usual list of English royalty on the board, from James II to George III, then worked through the constitutional questions of the Stuart succession. I pointed out that William and Mary came to the throne by the right of revolution, and that they then had to deny the effectiveness of this right in order to 1, keep the Jacobites from revolting back at them and 2, to keep little revolts from boiling up all over. So, they moved to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty in order to undercut the Jacobite threat. I had James Francis Edward Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart on the board as offshoots from James II's spot, and I put 1690, 1715, and 1745 next to them just as I put the years of the reigns of the other monarchs. This then framed the larger question.

From there we fought the imperial wars, focusing on the 7 Year's War and on the worldwide empire that grew out of that war. I did the usual thing with debts, costs, and cultural contacts during the war.

From there it was mercantilism, arguing that colonists bought the theory but disagreed with the expedience of some of the implementation. I laid out the theory of specie grabbing, emphasizing the role of cash money in 18th century warfare, and explained export bounties and import tariffs and why they were important for a Mercantilist system. The whole thing was framed in the context of 18th century states as organizations designed to collect taxes and pay soldiers, with any internal governance, legal system, or social safety net coming as an accidental followup.

Finally, we got to the crisis itself. I polled the students on whether they wanted to be stepped through the blow-by-blow or if they wanted the big pictures. As expected, they wanted the big picture. I could have done it either way. I used the sugar acts to set up navigation acts and the proper or improper implementation of the acts. From there I focused on the colonies as defenders of traditional understanding of English rights, using mobs to defend custom against unconstitutional laws, following Pauline Maier's old argument that the Sons of Liberty were using the people out of doors to nullify unconstitional laws without challenging the rule of law itself. I forgot to give her reminder about hue and cry, posse comitas, militia, and all the other ways in which the people formed into groups to police themselves.

I laid out a Jack Greene presentation of periphery and center, using the board to draw pictues. Let me see if I can repeat my structure using html text.

British Empire
Parliament makes general laws for the benefit of the whole

Governor Assembly Colony

Ireland - direct to King
Governor Assembly Colony

(Intercolonial Trade - governed by Parliament) King Parliament Britain


With lines drawn from the King to the governors to indicate authority

and that was then contrasted to the Parliamentary understanding:

British Empire
Parliament makes specific laws for the entire empire

Colony BritainColony

Thus Parliament argued that they were making rules for the whole, that the colonies were dependent on Parliament, and for a colony to attempt to contradict Parliament was to challenge the vertical hierarchy of authority and would necessarily create an imperium in imperio.

I expanded on the two sketches, saying more about how both focused on the rule of law, both focused on the rights of Englishmen, both insisted on representative government but Parliament held to virtual representation not actual representation, and both agreed that Parliament could govern the trade of the empire.

I liked it. I do not know if the kids found it useful.

For the final few minutes I talked about the radical tradition and how the Sons of Liberty felt that they were one of many sons of liberty worldwide. I invoked Paoli from Corsica and Wilkes in England. I talked about the number 45; I never got to the number 92. I think I set things up fairly well for our first Washington letter on Thursday.

On Thursday I will finish the imperial crisis, talk about the war itself, and will spend lots of time on Washington, some time on the Iroquois. (I assigned no readings about Indians, and as a result I am spending more class time on them than I did last time I taught this at this University. Overcompensation has its benefits.)

And so to eat ice cream and then hit the public library.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:00 AM | TrackBack

September 29, 2003

Happy Monday. Happy Monday.

Happy Monday.

Happy Monday. I did not blog over the weekend, largely because I had nothing to say. I have been grading papers, and caring for the baby, and going to high holiday services, and doing some reading for Tuesday.

I am not entirely happy about my sequence on the American Revolution, so I have been working on a new swing. Mostly this means firing up the word processor and making a mess of notes. Later today I will dig into the files and see what I did over the summer and last spring. I like my basic structure, but as always it needs tweaking.

We will have a three class sequence. I have already named them in the syllabus: Imperial Crisis, Revolution, The One and the Many. The idea is that the first one sets up the war, the second one fights it, and the third talks about state constitution making, the problem of republicanism, and life under the articles of confederation. Then, on Thursday of next week, we do the constitution and the week after that we have our midterm.

I am tweaking what I intend to do in each class because I changed the reading. The Imperial Crisis is a textbook chapter that runs through July, 1776. For Revolution I decided to focus on George Washington and we are reading half a dozen of his letters, plus the Declaration itself and Alexander Hamilton's letter to his father in law explaining how Hamilton and Washington came to quarrel. For The One and the Many we have a textbook chapter that covers the Revolution from 1776 to the end and then talks about constitutional arrangements. So the reading does not quite match up with the class subjects.

My current intention is to spend Imperial Crisis looking at how a batch of people defending traditional English constitutional arrangements and appealing to the rights of Englishmen ended up deciding that the king and his ministers were engaged in a crusade against liberty. The second will focus on Washington, although he will make a cameo on Tuesday when we fight the French and Indian War. I do feel that Washington is either ignored or, more often, made into a plaster saint. I give them Washington the businessman, land speculator, and practical legislator; I show a man with a ferocious temper, rigid self-control, and obsessive courtesy. I think it works, we will see.

At least some of the kids have been perking up when I tell them that we will be reading "other people's mail" this week.

And so to grade more papers.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:12 AM | TrackBack

Forthcoming licorice I went

Forthcoming licorice

I went back and edited the licorice stories. While doing so I came up with ideas for a couple more vingettes. I will be grading more than writing for the next few days (I am a slow grader) but once I have some more sections I will post the revised and edited whole.

And so to cook some dinner.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:20 AM | TrackBack

Who / That This

Who / That

This is my current pet peeve. I might be in the wrong on this one, but it still annoys me. Many undergraduates write in the structure "these are the sort of (collective-noun) that (verb)".

Now, when the collective noun is inanimate: tables, ideologies, pink and purple polka-dotted pentacles - then you should indeed use "that". And, when the collective noun is animate, most people do use who: "people, people who love people, ..."

What bugs me is when the collective noun refers to a group of people. I then want to use "who" afterwards, and the undergrads always use "that." They are not alone - I caught Benjamin Franklin doing it in his autobiography. It may even be correct practive by virtue of being common practice. But, these are the kinds of grammatical errors that bug me. People who make them are the kinds of writers who tend to use other phrases that also bug me.

Now I can go back to grading and housework, grading and housework.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:33 AM | TrackBack

September 26, 2003

Licorice There are a


There are a lot of sexual variations out there. J and I refer to most of them as licorice, as in "not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice."

Most bad erotic writing relies on breaking some form of taboo or on taking key words, fetishizing them, and repeating them again and again. If those words push your buttons in the right way they can be very exciting. If those words do nothing for you then the prose becomes incredibly boring.

I was thinking these two things, and about the erotica of obsession, and I wrote the following vignette. Comments requested.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:08 AM | TrackBack

Comma Splice ! My

Comma Splice !

My advisor hates my grammar. He finds it painful to read my stuff.

I was re-reading the Iraq post below and noticed a comma splice, and another one, and another one. Then I stopped counting, but there were more. It was painful for me to read, and I wrote it.

I guess I have to turn the grammar checker back on; I hate that thing. (This sentence was also a comma splice before I fixed it.)

And so to grade papers

Posted by Red Ted at 08:17 AM | TrackBack

September 25, 2003

Stinkbugs and baby Paraphrased,

Stinkbugs and baby

Paraphrased, from memory, from John Steinbeck's Cannery Row

"Look at all them stink bugs" Hazel poked at the bugs with the toe of his wet sneaker.
"Why do them stink bugs stick their tails in the air like that?" he asked.

"Well", Doc said, "no one knows. They are a very common sort of a bug and it is one of the more common things that they do. I looked them up in the encyclopedia of insects - they are really very interesting animals. But nowhere did the author say anything about them sticking their tails in the air."

"So why do they do it?" Hazel continued?

"I think they're praying" Doc said.

"What!" Hazel was scandalized.

"Well," Doc said, "If we do something that makes no sense like that, it is usually because we are praying. I figured that they are doing the same thing."

I keep having this little snippet from Cannery Row come to mind when I watch the baby fall asleep. Lately he has been doing the very cute toddler thing of putting his head and shoulders on his mattress and tucking his knees under him so that his butt sticks up in the air like one of Steinbeck's stink bugs. I sometimes call him "little stink bug."

The other night he was sleeping like that and J came in to put a blanket over him. He stirred, raised his head, wriggled, and lay down again with his head facing the other direction. His butt was still poking up in the air. "Duggah diggAH" he said, and then he went back to sleep.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:07 AM | TrackBack

Benjamin Franklin The class

Benjamin Franklin

The class was England and America
It was part two of establishing "normal" society in 18th century Anglo-America.

The kids read Ben Franklin's Autobiography and wrote a total softball homework "What most surprised you about Benjamin Franklin."

I had a list of points I wanted to make, I also prepped a short lecture on the imperial system, the Georgian kings, European wars, and these wars' impact on the colonies.

As expected, though, we spent all class digging into Franklin.

I opened both sections by explaining where we were and then explaining that we were going to use Franklin as a window into 18th century society. For both I explained that we were going to start with their talking points and we would run from there.

The first section, I got a mess of "surprises" from the kids, wrote them on the board, and then went back through them. The second section I had a kid propose something, we talked about it, I explained more of it, we talked some more and then, after it was dead, I asked for another volunteer to suggest something new to talk about. The second section worked a LOT better - more talk, more interplay, it was more live while the morning got a bit dead. Note to self, keep things flowing in the future.

We hit the major aspects of Augustan society: patron-client relationships, the republic of letters, geographical mobility, the importance of local elites, self-education and self-improvement, sexuality marriage and children.

The morning section had more on marriage, gender, and property rights. The afternoon section had a nice digression on drug epidemics, with chat about Gin in Augustan England, Whiskey in the Early American Republic, Opium after the American Civil War, Cocaine in the 1920s, Heroin in the 1950s, and Cocaine again since the 1980s.

The class is already fading a little - do I need to take notes myself about what it was that we actually covered?

Posted by Red Ted at 04:15 AM | TrackBack

September 24, 2003

The Iraq post It

The Iraq post

It seems like everyone who aspires to be anyone in the blogging world has written about Iraq. I thought I had too, but it does not appear to be in my archives. I suspect that I talked about it with my modern US class this spring but never wrote down my thoughts. So, here we go.

The problem with the current debate about Iraq is that it focuses on the wrong things. Pro-war folks harp on how evil Saddam Hussein's government was or assert that there was a tie to Al-Queda. Anti-war folks harp on the superficial proofs offered by the Bush administration as justification for the invasion. The real question is not about the start of the war, it is about the future of the peace.

Over the winter and early spring it was very obvious that the Bush team was pushing for a confrontation with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It was not obvious why they were doing so, why they suddenly chose to care that Hussein was obstructing UN resolutions.

No one who follows the news, the real news and not the Fox propaganda machine, believes that Iraq had meaningful contact with Al Queda before September 11. Hussein had a lot of contact with Palestinian suicide bombers and anti-Israeli terrorism, but a Stalinist regime that came to power on secular pan-Arabism, embraced modernism and secular society, and systematically repressed most Shiite and many Sunni Muslims had nothing in common with a violent offshoot of Wahabi Sunni Islam that was trying to provoke an East-West conflict in order to inspire religious unity. That dog won't hunt.

The best argument for why the Bush team was pushing for conflict was expressed in a series of backdoor interviews and organized leaks. The official underground line was that the Bushies were convinced that if they overthrew Hussein and created a democratic regime in the Middle East they would get rid of both mechanical and structural threats to the United States in the future. Bush was, according to interviews, convinced that Iraq was working on an atom bomb, working on a delivery mechanism, and within five years of being able to ship a bomb into the United States in a cargo container. He saw this as a clear and future danger to the safety of the nation, and chose to act. The broader, structural, approach was supported by Wolfowitz and others and hinged on creating a viable democracy in the Middle East.

The logic was that toppling Hussein and creating a democratic society would both deter other strong men from supporting international terrorism and, by giving power to Arab people, show the desperate poor folks who people the fundamentalist mosques that they could change the world by secular means. The first is simple threat theory. The second hinges on the commonly made observation that, in Algeria and Egypt and Iran, people turned to radical Islam because a strong armed state had shut down all other modes of political action and social protest. With no jobs, no technical education, no political voice and no future, the theory goes, they went through the mosques and into the streets.

So, by creating a viable democracy in Iraq the United States would short circuit fundamentalism's core appeal and also provide an alternative to the strong men and martial law governments that dominate the Middle East. The whole thing hinged on the contagion of liberty, the notion that once Arabs saw political freedom and the concomitant economic opportunity in one nation that they would push for it in other countries. A stable, prosperous, democratic Iraq would thus start Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia on the route towards democratic capitalism and a free society.

Finally, the pre-war spin story went, the United States could not make these goals the outward face of its policy in the region. To do so would rub the Saudi princes' noses in the way that the United States held that their closed society was a bad thing. Unsaid was that there is no basis in international law for an intervention in one country in order to influence political activities in other, neighboring countries. So, the Bush team produced a thin cover story hinging on weapons of mass destruction and hints of an Al Queda link.

The Anti-Bush crowd has been focusing on the thinness of the official cover story, parsing the claims about yellowcake, parsing the way that Bush's prose implied that there was a link between Iraq and Al Queda without ever stating that link, and otherwise bogging down in the mechanics of the big lie.

I think they are missing the point.

Lets take the Bush team at their implied pre-war word. Lets assume that the long-term goal of the war is indeed to create a vibrant democracy on the banks of the Euphrates. Lets pass on the questions of international law, wrap ourselves in the UN resolutions, and deny our political goals even as we work to fulfil them. How then should we judge policy in Iraq and how then should we suggest alternatives.

For the record, I said pre-war and I say again now, that this is a high-risk strategy, that if it works it will work wonderfully, and that I hope that it does work. I do believe in the contagion of liberty, it has worked in the past and it will work in the future. The long term goals are positive despite the cynical way that they were implemented.

But are the policies currently being pursued on the ground in Iraq working to further and achieve those democratic goals? There I just do not know the answer. The news I see is fragmented and politicized. I have seen a number of accounts of Iraqis welcoming American troops, of setting up new local institutions, there are now hundreds of newspapers where once there were only a few state-run newspapers. So some of the infrastructure of a democratic society is beginning to appear. Iraq was one of the more secular states in the Middle East and it was also one of the more entrepreneurial. There are a few early signs that Iraq might well become a powerhouse.

There is also bad news - not just the continuing guerilla attacks in the middle of the country. Those are bound to continue as long as a few people are willing to organize them and the bulk of the Iraqi people is not willing to shame and condemn them. Beyond that, it appears that the war planning staff forgot to plan for peace - a damning indictment of the whole idea that the subtext of the war was building a democratic society. Many of the rebuilding contracts have been let on a no-bid basis to a firm with close ties to the administration, and other firms tied to the government have also been getting a lion's share of the work. This looks bad, it not only breaks the rule about Caesar's wife, it looks like the worst sort of government looting from the glory days of Tammany Hall and machine politics. When will we learn that a plaster contractor billed $200,000 a room to refinish the new City Hall?

If I were giving advice to Democratic strategists, it would be to focus on the implementation of the post-war policy in Iraq. Argue from administrative competence, argue against good-ole-boy contracting, argue against people who over commit the nation without a plan, and make SURE that you have a plan yourself. We can't un-make the decision to go to war. All we can do is work hard to make sure that the lasting peace is in the interest of the nation, the ENTIRE nation, and that won't happen until we create a postwar settlement in Iraq where most Iraqis themselves feel that they are better off in a democratic society with voluntary religion and a vibrant economy.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:03 PM | TrackBack

September 23, 2003

Miscellaneous stuff This is

Miscellaneous stuff

This is a mess of short little things, none worth their own blog entry.

I talked about Powerpoint yesterday. Today I did the unthinkable and asked the students during that slack minute or so before the start of class (I don't like to do substance before the official starting time.) Almost all of them had suffered through a class where the instructor made powerpoint presentations and then read the slides to them. They absolutely hated it. I then asked if they had ever had good classes using Powerpoint, and if so then what had the instructor done that worked well for them. One student had a teacher who would use the powerpoint as the electronic version of the little skeleton outline that I put up on the board, giving signposts to the students but using each slide as the marker for several minutes of free-form discussion. Several students liked it when Powerpoint was used to present facts, evidence and numbers.

So, you teachers who stumble onto this, some suggestions on how to use that technology.

In other news. The baby has a fever. He slept poorly last night (J lost) and was cranky today. He stayed home. I watched him this morning, J then came back from work with a box of paperwork to finish and took over baby duty while I went to teach. After I came back and they got back from buying baby shoes, I went back on duty. The little man is being very clingy and very fragile. He went to bed early - fell asleep in the stroller while we were walking the dawg - and I expect that he will wake up hungry in about an hour. If so, it is my turn to deal with baby tonight.

I finished the current draft of chapter four last night. Papers came in today. I get to spend the next few days grading like a madman, then I go and revise chapter three. Four will go into cold storage where three used to be - my advisor is tired of getting chapter drafts hot off the revision process. He wants me to let them cool and then read over them myself for clarity, argument, and ugly grammar.

Off to do some housework before bed - it is trash day tomorrow and we are getting a new sofa to replace the elder beast.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:10 AM | TrackBack

Enlightenment and Awakening Today's

Enlightenment and Awakening

Today's class went well. I was amused when I compared it to the skeleton outline I put up a day or so ago. I walked into the classroom with that outline. I taught the overall framework and the second two thirds.

I opened with some general remarks about the 18th century and what we would be doing this week. I then laid out the plan: a third of the class setting the scene, a third on the enlightenment, and a third on the awakening. So far we match the outline below.

But, that first third was very unlike what I had outlined. I did indeed introduce them to 18th century life, but what I did was set up colonial elites and make the argument that by the middle of the 18th century colonial religion was elitist and formalized. In the process I mentioned the county courts and parish vestries in Virginia yet again, talked about how New England religion became tribal with salvation becoming effectively hereditary regardless of what the theological theories said. In the process I gave them a couple of set pieces.

We did viva voce elections in Virginia, cribbing outrageously from Rhys Isaac and I acted out the ritual of the two candidates, the county clerk, and the individual voter stepping forward, proving his qualifications, stating his preference out loud in front of the community, and then being personally thanked by the candidate of his choice.

For the middle colonies, I gave them the Weberization of the Quakers. I started with 1640s Quakers, challenging authority, rejecting social norms, one of many wild and radical groups in the English Civil Wars. I conjured up the image of the half naked quaker, her face blackened with soot, marching into the middle of a Puritan meeting house dragging a cross over her shoulder, and challenging the minister up in his pulpit, trying to debate him on the nature of true religion. It is a striking image. But, by the 1730s in Pennsylvania Quakers were calm and quiet - I contrasted that earlier Mary Dyer type with the public friends of the early 18th century, standing up to deliver a sermon indistinguishable in form or content from those presented in other Protestant houses of worship.

From there we went to the enlightenment. I did the usual board drill where they name some enlightenment dudes. I asked the morning class how many had read something from these guys, most of them had. This is a good sign for the future. I then ran through the basic narrative of astronomy to Newton to regular laws deduced from observations and describing the "natural" world. Then we had Locke and his tabula rosa. From there we did Locke and toleration. I did the exercise where you use a prop to show simple ideas - color, shape - combine them into complex ideas, and have those ideas enter your mind. I showed them a red umbrella or an orange book, and they were aware that they saw this thing. Then I told them that I would punish them unless they saw this prop I was holding as something else - a yellow pineapple or a multicolored beach ball. It was pretty easy to get them through Locke's argument that while force can get you to state words that agree with the source of power, no form of external coercion could convince them that the red umbrella I was holding was actually something else.

I finished the enlightenment with natural law, the state of nature, and the social contract. This section closed with my reminder that natural law is a method, not an answer, and that people get very different notions of what is "natural" depending on their preconceptions. Thus Hobbes and Rousseau had very different states of nature and thus imagined very different social contracts. I then used a more pungent example, showing the first section how natural law logic could show that women and men are equal and that women are "naturally" subordinate to me and showing the second the same thing for black and white. I am not sure which made the better example, gender or race.

Then we did the awakening. I explained basic Pietism, claimed it was a worldwide movement, and then gave them Jonathan Edwards as the case study. I explained Stoddard and communion as a saving ordinance, thus tying them back to the vignette of New England that we had started with. I then argued that Edwards used Lockean psychology to induce a religious fervor by describing a situation so clearly that it became real in the minds of the audience. I paraphrased part of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" - setting the scene, staring at the back of the room, summarizing Edwards in a monotone - before breaking and stepping aside and analyzing it with them. As an aside, I found it almost impossible to teach, impersonating Jonathan Edwards, without moving my hands. I really do wave around a lot!

From there I ran through the Wesley brothers, George Whitefield, and the new light challenge to formal religion and traditional authority. I tried to give them the liberal-new light conflict and don't think I did that very well. But, I did very clearly make the point that the Awakening got people into the habit of making decisions, and that this habit of thinking critically about authority would drive the Revolutionary Crisis. We are indeed in the buildup to the American Revolution.

Looking over this, we did a LOT of stuff in 80 minutes. The kids took a lot of notes today - I saw them doing it.

I gave a tight lecture from limited lecture notes, with some improvisation and a couple of set-piece scenes. Of course I think it went well. On the down side, I was talking at them for 80 minutes, and even with the cut piece moments it was still a static lecture. I NEED to structure Thursday's class on England and America as a discussion. They are reading Franklin's Autobiography for Thursday and writing homework on it. They should have something to talk about. The challenge will be getting a structure that will encourage them to speak in class and synthesize Franklin with the other things we have been covering and the things they have been reading in their textbooks.

And so to blog about things outside of the classroom.

After setting

Posted by Red Ted at 08:57 AM | TrackBack

September 22, 2003

I hate the bookstore.

I hate the bookstore.

Really, I do.

I am using Breen & Innes Myne Owne Ground. The book was ordered months ago. The bookstore got a partial order - if I find out that they intentionally shorted me I WILL go ballistic on them. The bookstore insisted that they were doing a special order two weeks ago and that the books would be available by the middle of last week.

I just got a call from a student - what few books came in have already sold out. She is screwed. I will lend her my copy on Tuesday and give her an extension until Thursday.

Now, in fairness to the bookstore I should have
1, put a copy of the book on reserve at the library
2, followed up more aggressively
3, made it crystal clear, in capital letters if need be, that this book would be used early in the semester, that we really would need 90 copies, and that any missing copies would be replaced by forcing the book store manager to fly the Concorde to London and fetch them himself.

I will calm down, then sick the department chairman on them.

And back to class prep.

EDIT - they finally answered the phone. It appears that the culprit is Oxford University Press, which ran out of stock and has been lax about letting folks know when things are due. I guess I get to boycott Oxford Press for teaching requirements.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:38 AM | TrackBack

The Mormons have a

The Mormons have a point

Meryl Yourish complains about disaster management after Isabel and while she agrees that it is not FEMA's fault she and her email correspondents bring up an important point.

Many people did not make sure that they have enough bottled water. Now, it might be that J comes from New England and has experienced sequential blizzards and flakey power, but we always keep some quantity of food, water, batteries, flashlights and so on in the house. We don't keep enough - only a few gallons of water per person - but we keep a base quantity.

The various Mormon churches require their members to keep a year's worth of food for the family in the house at all times. Mormon families in our neighborhood when I was growing up simply had vast quantities of dried rice and beans in their basement as this was a cheap non-spoiling way to keep their reserves.

I can not fathom anyone who lives in snow country, earthquake country, or hurricane country who does not, as a matter of course, keep some basic level of food and water in the house. This stuff is not all that expensive, you can rotate through it to keep it fresh (the baby and the sourdough starter both drink bottled water even though we tested our house water and it is fine.) What am I missing?

And so to do something productive - just finished editing a chapter and am at loose ends.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:03 AM | TrackBack

Powerpoint and Teaching Hearding

Powerpoint and Teaching

Hearding writes, on the Sunsword Forums,

Since I got out of the Army I've been going to Southwest Missouri State University, doing 6-12 credit hours a semester. I chose a Computer Information Systems degree program since that is the field I'm interested in. In a nutshell, here's what I've learned since spring 2001:

Powerpoint slide have replaced instructors.
Basic Accounting practices.
Basic level Visual Basic skills.

That's it.

Every class is the same, no matter if it's Systems Analysis, Business Communications, Marketing 350, or Object Technology (fancy way of saying Java 1). Walk in, sit down. The "instructor" fires up Powerpoint and proceeds to bore the #### out of you by reading what's on the screen. After 50 minutes you pack up your stuff and move into a different room to do the same thing. Every few weeks you have a test that covers random bullet points from the powerpoint slides.

The accounting classes I took (against my will...but it's in the degree program) did not use powerpoint. The Visual Basic course I took did not use powerpoint. This leads me to believe that any class where the teacher fires up powerpoint is one I should drop immediately, since those are the only classes I've actually learned anything in.

Yes, I once again have reached the point of wanting to chuck it all. It seems so pointless. I'll have a slip of paper saying I'm a graduate, but I won't know a #### thing. Today I got so disgusted, I skipped all my classes, went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book on C++ and tore into it. I remember saying to myself, "Well if they're not going to teach me anything I guess I'll have to do it myself." I'm on chapter 2

There's no point to this...just gotta rant. Maybe in the process of ranting I'll find the value in this so called 'education'.

After reading this I did a little digging around. There are apparently a fair number of teachers who use powerpoint. As one student I checked with put it, "some use it well, some use it poorly." This squares with the argument made by the powerpoint defenders, and is in contrast to the well known critique of powerpoint as "stalinist software."

I used to work as a consultant teaching college professors how to use multimedia technology in the classroom. One of the options we presented them was Powerpoint. I went with the position that Powerpoint was a good way to quickly present a couple of graphs and charts - about the same amount of information that you would get from an overhead projector. Or, it was a good way to organize a highly technical lecture with lots of graphs and formulas.

Here I drew on what one of the Econ professors at Large Southern Research University did - he made up 120 slide PPT presentations for each meeting of the 300-level econ theory class. These powerpoint files were posted on the class website for the kids to download and review. He also created a sheaf of paper for each student each day - in a large lecture hall - so that they had the text of every slide at hand and could save their writing time for annotating the slides. He then would start moving at light speed through the material. Every formula, every x/y chart he referred to had a slide. He spent no time scribbling on the board but instead was constantly explaining and teaching. I talked with one of the students from that class, who commented that it was like "drinking from a firehose." At the end of every class meeting he walked out stunned and exhausted, numbed by the amount of material he had just swallowed.

That professor got absolutely spectacular course evaluations, and he increased the material he covered by about 20 percent over the previous form of the 300-level Macro/Micro sequence. It was a rigorous class and the students had pretty good retention of the increased volume of material.

So, Powerpoint is indeed just a tool. Powerpoint does not make crappy lectures, crappy teachers make crappy lectures. If some of these bozos who stand up and read their slides had their powerpoint taken away, they might very well sit there with the textbook open in front of them and spend their class time explaining the textbook paragraph by paragraph. (Don't laugh, I know of one tenured community college history professor who does exactly that in her classes, using Spielvogel's mighty simple-minded textbook)

How, then, might I use powerpoint effectively the next time that I am teaching history in a wired classroom?

I use the blackboard to

  1. Write a skeleton outline of the class on one side

  2. Write down particular names and dates that I want the kids to copy
  3. Do board exercises, often in the compare/contrast category
  4. Draw really ugly maps and then sketch all over them
  5. Put words on the board when one of the kids does not know a vocabulary word I used

In addition, if I have an overhead projector available I will bring maps and use those instead of maps drawn on the blackboard. The projector maps have the advantage of being geographically accurate - mine are rather blob like - and the disadvantage that I can not scribble arrows on them the same way. They are static and not interactive.

For now, I intend not to request powerpoint equipped classrooms. If I get one, teaching in a spiffy new building instead of the current old monster, then I might put together a few data slides. I will not turn my lectures into detailed powerpoint sequences, if only because my lecture notes are not that detailed. I post, verbatim, my current class planning for tomorrow:

3 part class. 1, Society at the start of the 18th century. Anne and Georges Imperial System - governors, legislatures, navigation acts, trade patterns Colonial tensions east/west, elite domination

2, Enlightenment - start first
Observation > Revelation
Logic to deduce the laws of nature - Astronomy --> Newton
Bacon, Scientific method, etc
Locke, epistemology
Extension of this practice to social realm
Observation, search for "natural" order in society
Question received knowledge
Does not, can not, question own assumptions about race, gender, status.
Moderns and Classics, presumption that the old must be idiots

3, Awakening
Worldwide movement
One starting point, Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Lockean imagery to produce religious conversion
Spread - Whitefield, Davenport, Tennants, Wesleyan movement, German Pietism
Letters and books, conversion narratives, expectations for behavior, public meetings
Change from formal to emotional religion, emphasis on individual choice
oddity about New England - liberal clergymen work out the theory of resistance, orthodox and new light types fill the ranks of the army carrying out that resistance
Never quite ends, just moves on.

That is not a powerpoint lecture, and it certainly is not when I move on to talk to the kids about who are the enlightenment guys, what do we know about the awakening, and so on.

Between now and 10:00 am tomorrow I will flesh this out a little, make notes to myself about dates, think about how to get the kids to talk, but that is the basic form. I teach from rough notes, I improvise to an outline. It works for me, and the kids like it better than when I read from a script.

This post is a bit of a mess, I think I will post it anyway.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:24 AM | TrackBack

September 21, 2003

Blog networks I read

Blog networks

I read blogs, it is my current off-time activity. I find that I read two particular flavors of blog by preference. The first are pundit blogs: Kevin Drum's Calpundit, the Volokh crowd of libertarians, and others who like to have their regular say about current events. I occasionally say a little about events as well. The second group is a little harder to characterize. I think of it as articulate women with an edge: Anne wrestling with her demons or Krista Scott-Dixon's feminist weightlifting, but many of them file their public presences as sex blogs. The Dirty Whore is one of the most articulate and strong-minded of these, which is why I linked to her from my blog.

As I read blogs I often leave marginal commentary, more often on the articulate women than on the pundits. I think that some of the people who follow up on my commentary from the articulate women are a little confused by what they find here - I don't fit into that blog network.

I am not really sure how I would characterize this blog. It is a diary on some level. It was a workout log when I first started it. It is a place where I hash out my writing problems. It is a place where I dump my comments on the class I just taught. It is also a place where I write up my thoughts on the issues of the day to get them out of my head so that I can then do my own work. I have not been doing much punditry, but I might do more.

I work hard to keep this blog very clean - I write it anonymously but as a practical matter I know that I have not hidden my tracks all that well. I don't write anything my wife could not read at work; I don't write anything that would get me in trouble with a possible hire. I doubt that my students read it, if they do they will find that I am not as confident as I try to appear and I think they can survive that discovery.

I do think that I will post a few more things that might appeal to the people who follow up on my odder offerings to other people's comment boxes.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:26 AM | TrackBack

Mom bought a new

Mom bought a new car a couple of weeks ago.

The lease ran up on the Taurus wagon, and she did not like it. "It was an old lady's car." Now, thanks to some silly 0% financing from Ford, they have a new little sports utility vehicle.

My first thought was "She can't get a Sports Ute - she does not drive like a jerk." But then, I remembered that back in the 1980s when we had a Chevy Suburban she did love driving it. You have to remember that Mom is about an inch over five feet tall, and she tended to grin a lot while driving the Suburban. That was good memories, and she does like to be up above the traffic and see what is happening around her. So she drove happy in a sports ute back before all the jerks bought them. She is approved, I will let her keep it (grin).

I asked her if she was going to get a roof rack so she can put her kayaks up on top and take them places. She looked at me funny and reminded me that she can not life her own kayak any more. She is 71 - even though she does not look it. She is complaining that she is shrinking, her pants no longer fit. So Mom is now a little old lady in a sports ute.

I am beginning to think she should have gotten a Hummer.

And so to wash the dishes.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:38 AM | TrackBack

I looked over my

I looked over my last few blog posts. They are pretty tight, well-written mini-rants. This is not like that; this entry is a rambling mess from a sleepy man.

Friday was a darn good writing day. I took my blogging energy - I tend to blog while I write, as a form of study break - and put it towards a long thing on powerpoint and teaching.

Friday night we went down to the shore - got a late start because bonehead here tried to turn down the burner with the chicken stock on it and instead turned off the oven with the chicken roasting in it. Saturday my dad got a nice civic honor and we spent a couple of hours listening to speeches by the town Commissioners. I took some useful notes on public speaking, especially on how NOT to do it. I was also struck that two of the five speeches dwelt on the trouble that this affluent community is having hiring enough qualified people. Public Works has had three open positions and continuous job searches going for over a year in a group of 25 workers and 5 managers. That is a 10 percent unfilled rate - it seems high to me.

Saturday we came home, last night J sang in the choir during Slichot. The service STARTED after our bedtime. We were both very tired afterwards.

Today, Sunday, has been a day for housework and puttering and wishing we had a nap. I did finally get out to get more trim paint for the master bedroom (and for baby's wooden rocking chair) and I got a rake so I could get the oak leaves off the lawn. This homeowner thing means you keep having to buy things. I did a little writing half an hour ago - moved a few sentences around. I also went over some rough drafts and sent the kids some comments. It has not been a highly productive weekend. I need to get a lot of work done tomorrow because on Tuesday I get a deluge of papers.

And so to write the second (more focused) entry.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:34 AM | TrackBack

September 18, 2003

Today's Class - Slavery

Today's Class - Slavery

I wanted to write this one up while it was still fresh in my mind. I did not - came home and checked email, cooked dinner, walked dawg, wrestled with baby and dishes and helping the wife, watched part of The Apostle while watching baby. But, here we go.

The original plan had been to look at Bacon's Rebellion, the turn to slavery in Virginia, and then at a close reading at the lives of black people before and after the crucial transition. But, that is basically what they are writing their paper on and the paper has been extended to Tuesday of next week. Rather than hold a class that would drive their papers (even though they would have talked a lot and had some fun) I went with a different approach.

I organized the class around three questions and three case studies. I put the questions on the board at the start, then went through my case studies. The first class I did not return to the questions until the end, the second class I changed the order to the way they are here and we answered the first two before moving on to Virginia and Bacon's Rebellion for the final 20 minutes.

  1. Why was it that most blacks taken from Africa went to Brazil, most of the rest went to the Caribbean, and only a few went to North America, but in 1865 when slavery ended most African-Americans in the Western Hemisphere lived in North America?
  2. Why did Brazil and the Caribbean see lots of slave revolts and slave uprisings, including Toussaint L'Overture in Haiti, while there were very few revolts or uprisings in North America (Stono Rebellion, Nat Turner, the aborted Gabriel's Rebellion and Denmark Vesey plot, and scattered instances of individual resistance)?
  3. Why were Virginians more vocal and more agressive about "liberty" in the 18th century than any other colony?

I handled the questions through case studies of Barbados, Virginia, and South Carolina. First I went through the order in which they were settled and reminded the students of the physical geography of each. Then we went through them again in the order in which they turned from white servant labor to permanant slave labor, the order in which they became slave societies. I had the students do a board exercise figuring out what a "slave society" might be.

We did a board exercise looking at the characteristics of each, starting with the core crop and moving from there to political power and internal tensions. Most of this was a look at sugar, with a brief mini-lecture on rice. Tobacco, we had already covered.

From Crops we went to trade. I laid out the Triangular trade. From there we drilled down to two case studies. I told them Obaiyah Equimo's (spelling) story, filling in his experiences and putting them into context at each stage. As usual, the Middle Passage stunned them, although not as badly as it stunned the Community College folks. The second case study was of the food trade between New England and the Colonies, and I argued that New England and the Caribbean together made an economic zone comparable in size and self-sufficiency to the Chesapeake; New England was integrally tied to the slave trade and could not have prospered without it.

At that point the kids were able to answer the first two questions and in the second section they did. In the first I forgot to do this and went straight ahead. It worked better the second time - if only because I was able to shut up and they were able to take the things I had told them and suggest possible answers to the questions. It was a model of how to do history in the "problem solving" mode.

Finally I gave them Ed Morgans argument about Virginia moving from a class-based to a race-based society. I had to tread carefully there so as not to spoon feed them a stock narrative for their papers. I concentrated on bookending the 1660s and the early 1700s, contrasting Virginia at the two points and arguing that the key was elite responses to Bacon's Rebellion.

I will give the whole thing a pretty good. I did not spend enough time reviewing and prepping - forgot when Barbados was settled for example. I did give them a sample of the problem solving mode and I did look at slavery in the international perspective. What got left out was black experiences on plantations and farms and what got left out was Peter Kolchin and Eugene Genovese's argument about colonial slavery being relatively harsh while antebellum slavery saw both better physical conditions and more intrusive psychological conditions. I think I can get some of that in on Tuesday as I talk about the eighteenth century.

Now I really DO have to go help J with laundry.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:52 AM | TrackBack

Anti-Catholicism I have spent


I have spent the last couple of days wrestling with anti-Catholicism. In 1846 the Presbyterian Church voted that anyone who left the Roman Catholic Church and joined the Presbyterians would have to be rebaptized, a ritual decision chosen specifically because the General Assembly of the PCA was convinced that the RC church was not really a Christian church.

Afterwards Charles Hodge of Princeton and James Thornwell of South Carolina got into a very polite but very serious argument. Hodge argued that any group of people who claimed to be Christians, who held a basic historical faith, and whose membership included at least a couple of truly holy people, was a true church. Thornwell argued that any body that proclaimed doctrines sufficiently wrong could not be Christian regardless of what they claimed, and that the RC church was comparable to the liberal churches that denied the divinity of Christ.

This matters for my argument because I see other Protestant churches using a variation on Hodge's argument as they went about building the Evangelical Alliance in the mid 1840s. I am having trouble making the transition from the public debate to the details of Hodges position.

But, this blogging helped me sort it out. That is why I blog about my writing.

And so to prep for class.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:27 AM | TrackBack

September 17, 2003

Tuesday's Class I slept

Tuesday's Class

I slept terribly Monday night. I rattled around until after 1:00, the baby was up at 1:40 and again at 4:00, and I spent my time Monday grading homework rather than doing good solid class prep.

Then, on Tuesday morning, I spent office hours going over a student's rough draft with her, talking her through her writing decisions and urging her to make her points more clearly. It was a fun teaching moment and (hopefully - we will see when I get her paper) I did some good. But, I looked down and realized that class was starting in 2 minutes ... 10 minutes away from my office.

I rushed into class late and without having had a chance to finish doing prep. So, we had lecture. It is always easier for me to lecture than to lead a discussion. I had made enough notes that the lecture had some coherence - I ran in chronological order, talked about the fur trade, about Canada and New Amsterdam, about the Iroquois confederacy, the Algonquin tribes and the middle ground, about the English Civil Wars and their impact on the colonies, about Navigation Acts, about the Restoration and the Restoration colonies, about how the middle colonies compared to New England and Virginia (students did some board work here), and about the Glorious Revolution and its impact on New England.

I talked about a lot. I am afraid that the students did not get a lot out of my talk - I was moving fast, moving a little thinly, and my only narrative structure was chronology and the Stuart monarchies. I think I made my overarching point that events in the 17th-century colonies were largely determined by events in Europe, but not much else.

Thursday we talk about slavery and finish up the 17th century. It will be tricky talking about slavery without reviewing the book that they are reading for Thursday. The original plan had been for them to read Innes and Breen Myne Owne Ground, write a paper on how the black experience on Virginia's Eastern Shore changed between 1620 and 1680, and then have a class covering sugar islands, South Carolina, Virginia's transition to slavery, and the further development of American chattel slavery in the early 18th century. Now I will have to cut back on my discussion of the mid-17th century, which had been something I was going to center the class discussion on. I had planned to have the kids lay out the changes in Virginia and have the kids explain to me how and why the tobacco colonies turned from white servants to black slaves as their primary labor source.

But, the University Bookstore and Oxford University Press conspired to mess that up. The Press gave a partial shipment. I did not confirm the book count at the start of the semester. The bookstore was lax about following up their shipment. About 15 kids have been unable to get the book. Rather than give them an extension while the others turned in papers on time, I gave the entire class an extension until next week with the provisions that 1, we would NOT talk about the book on Thursday and 2, that next week's syllabus and readings will be followed - including reading a textbook chapter for Tuesday and Franklin's Autobiography for Thursday of next week.

I will work something up. With luck it will be something that is more interesting than a lecture AND that will leave them free to figure out Breen's argument for themselves rather than just spouting back whatever we would have talked about in class.

But now, I will write. If I hit the appropriate sort of roadblock I will dig into my books and notes and finish my pocket history of the SMCJ that I started below (I can't research for a blog entry while other more important things are undone .) I just wanted to get my summary of yesterday down - I do go back and re-read these as I plan for the next semester.

And so to tackle Anti-Catholicism

Posted by Red Ted at 10:10 AM | TrackBack

September 15, 2003

Cheap Coffee I will

Cheap Coffee

I will finish the story of the SMCJ later. Now I am drinking coffee and I want to write about it.

I do not drink alcohol, use tobacco, or partake in other recreational substances. My vices right now consist of coffee and root beer. I take them seriously and want the good stuff.

I drink a moderate amount of coffee, 20 to 30 ounces a day. That is down from the pot a day I used to guzzle but it is still more than my doctor approves of. I brew half-caff these days to help balance my desire for coffee with my desire for regular sleep.

I buy fresh-roasted whole bean coffee from local roasters, two pounds at a time, and use it up within three or four weeks. I grind right before I brew, I use a Braun coffee maker because I like the taste. When this one dies, some day (they are very sturdy appliances) I will probably get a Braun with a carafe. I HATE burned coffee and turn the hot plate off after the pot brews - I would rather drink it cold than burnt.

The best place I have found to get coffee locally is Coffeeworks in Voorhees, NJ. They are nice folks. But, it is a 15 to 20 minute drive to get there, plus traffic. It always takes the girls at the counter three tries to ring up bulk coffee - they seem to have too much turnover with the high-school kids who staff the front. In short, it is a bother and a hassle to make a coffee run.

I drank my coffee black from the time I was about 17 until early this summer. This summer I had a nasty bout with gastric reflux and ended up shifting first to cafe au lait and then, because I am lazy, to half coffee and half cold skim milk.

I noticed that I was not really tasting all the subtlety of the beans this way - I could no longer taste much of the syrup in a Sumatra, the mocha flavor in an east African, or the high fragrant note in the good American coffees. So, when I was wandering through the discount club the other day, I bought some cheap coffee. I could have gotten Starbucks, but I think they systematically over-roast and burn their coffee. I do not drink Starbucks. I got the house brand from BJ's Warehouse.

As straight black coffee, it is not good at all - stale, flat, boring and thin. If I brew it stronger than usual and mix it with milk it is just barely acceptable. I will finish what I bought, but I will not be buying any more. I guess sometime in October I will drive down to Voorhees and watch the latest counter girl struggle with how best to ring up two pounds of whole-bean coffee.

And so to have another cup of coffee

Posted by Red Ted at 10:31 AM | TrackBack

Richard Nixon The Washington

Richard Nixon

The Washington Post has a nice article about Sammy Davis Jr and Richard Nixon.

Nixon fascinates me. He was everywhere and involved with almost everything in the second half of the twentieth century. He was Mr Cold War, Mr Returning WW2 Vet. He was baffled by the youth movement, and he did try to figure it out - including that notorious moment when he went out to the Lincoln Memorial to talk to some of the protestors.

I could not image George W. Bush doing anything like that -- Bush has too much certainty and too little introspection. Nixon, petty and vindictive as he was, manipulative and cynical as he was, had some measure of that humilty and self-doubt that makes a powerful man compelling as a human. He seemed to know that he was flawed, and to regret it, even as he gave in to some of his darker impulses.

I think that, as we move into the twentyfirst century, Nixon will continue to be someone that we go back to and reconsider.

And back to grading.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:36 AM | TrackBack

September 14, 2003

Society for the Melioration

Society for the Melioration of the Condition of the Jews

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh conspiracy has been hosting a long discussion on Messianic Jews and mainstream Judaism, asking why Messianic Jews such as Jews for Jesus are ostracized and written out of the tribe while other, equally serious, heresies are treaded much more leniently.

The leading conclusion over there is that Jews have suffered so much from Christianity over the centuries, including a constant pressure to convert and assimilate, that any step that appears to lead towards assimilation is suspect. And, Messianic Judaism is often seen as a stealth attempt to convert Jews and break them away from their heritage.

I buy that argument, it certainly links with the over-riding theme in much of the Hebrew Bible that "Thou shalt not act like thy neighbors and blend into their society" and it links with the lived experience of modern Judaism. There was an interesting article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about a Presbyterian-sponsored Messianic congregation in Philadelphia. The whole thing reminded me of Reverend J.C.F. Frey and the early nineteenth-century Society for the Melioration of the Condition of the Jews - one of the less successful of the benevolent movements that I write about.

Frey was born in Germany. He was Jewish, but he converted to Christianity and moved to England, changing his name as he did so. He finally ended up in America where, after a stint among the Presbyterians, he became a Baptist minister. Frey decided that there was a serious problem facing the nation and he led a crusade to solve this problem - there were a great many German Jews who had converted to Christianity and become religious orphans: their family and Jewish neighborhoods rejected them as apostates while German gentiles rejected them because they still thought of them as Jewish and thus "untouchable." So, Frey reasoned, why not create a colony in the United States where these converts could come and make a fresh start, free of ties and prejudices.

He went on the lecture tour, moving up and down the East Coast of the US in the late 1810s and early 1820s, preaching a sermon and passing the hat. He got some money here and there for his project, but it got nowhere until Elias Boudinot died. Boudinot was a wealthy man who had been an influential politician and then spent his retiring years in the benevolent project. He had been President of the Continental Congress after the Revolution, was an influential Representative in the first U.S. Congress, and after retiring from politics was President of the American Bible Society. Boudinot deeded 10,000 acres to the ASMCJ in his will, and when Boudinot died in the early 1820s Frey's society suddenly had the capital it needed.


Posted by Red Ted at 12:51 PM | TrackBack

September 13, 2003

Goldilocks and Ultraism I

Goldilocks and Ultraism

I spend a lot of time reading nineteenth-century arguments. Most of these are written in a structural form that I will call Goldilocks, although the folks who wrote them would likely have called it Scylla and Charybdis. They say that there is one path, but it is too hot or leads to a whirlpool, so you don't want to do that. There is another path, but it is too cold or leads to a monster that bites your head off, so you don't want that either. Instead you want the thing in the middle, which is "just right".

It is a powerful way of presenting an argument because it makes whatever you want to say appear to be a judicious and reasonable balance. Of course, as a practical matter, by choosing your Scylla and your Charybdis you can argue that almost anything is balanced and reasonable.

In contrast, much discourse in the 20th and 21st century is ultra-ist. People identify one overriding principle and try to apply it to whatever it is that they are talking about. They have a plan, or a model, or a phrase, and this is the one way and the only way. Either you go along with them, or you are wrong wrong completely wrong.

It is a style of argument that my nineteenth-century condemned as "ultraism" - taking one point or principle and making far too much depend on it.

But, it is a simple sort of an argument to follow - you just have to get across one big idea and then people can be counted on to act on this idea. And many of these big ideas are good ideas: alcohol is dangerous, slavery is evil. Of course, as with any rhetorical technique, you can support dangerous ideas: we love Big Brother.

As I was writing the rant about diets and body shapes it came to me that much of what we hear on that is ultra-ist discourse, "you can never be too rich or too thin" or "how dare you comment on my appearance". The rhetoric of ultraism appears in many places, of course, including the war on drugs and the war on terror. And no matter where it appears it emphasizes immediate results over nuanced understanding.

I guess I am a hopeless intellectual, for I would rather understand something than simplify it in order to lead a stampede.

And back to work - having a good writing morning.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:59 PM | TrackBack

Twiddlybits is on a

Twiddlybits is on a diet - she is using the Atkins diet to try to get down to a weight that she is happy about.

Good for her.

I posted a few words on her blog, and the discussion that followed made me want to elaborate somewhat. I warned her that she should not get too skinny, that it would be a terrible thing if her friends had to chase her down and throw food at her so that they could hug her without cutting themselves on her bones. It was a lighthearted comment.

That comment grew out of an observation that J made about science fiction conventions. There are spandex limits, she sez: some people who want to traipse about in spandex really should not do so. Spandex limits come on both ends of the physical spectrum - some people are TOO BIG to look good in skintight fabric, others are TOO SKINNY. Neither is all that attractive. However, there is a large middle ground where people do look rather hot. (For the record, Twiddly falls well within those limits and will probably remain within them after she hits her target size.) We can differ about the margins of that middle zone, with many pushing for scrawny eye-candy and others who favor a more curved look, but we can agree that there is a target zone.

What I find more interesting is the mixture of messages that we all receive on a regular basis from the media and from the people around us.

We are surrounded by images of remarkably thin, fit people and told that this is the model to which all of us, regardless of age and activity level, must aspire. Every Spears or Aguilara video, every underwear add showing cute guys with sixpack abs, every barbie doll, reinforces a body image that is remarkably thin and really only suits a small portion of the nation. The ideal image is that of an 18 to 20 year old: thin, with secondary sex characteristics but without the filling in that happens in the mid 20s. Those are the years where we combine the last of the adolescent hormones with the beginnings of a full-sized frame, and I must admit that the combination produces some very nice eye candy. I teach at an urban university, and springtime is a good time to admire thin waists, flat butts, and women whose chests suggest that they are on the pill.

And yet, we have another set of messages also percolating through the media. This argues that the most important thing you can do is feel good about yourself. People who are not size 4 still buy clothing, still go out in public, and they insist on having nice things to wear. They insist on being cherished and appreciated and loved. There has been a real explosion in "plus-size" clothing in the last ten years or so -- not just because Americans are fatter which we are, but because large Americans are tired of being told that they have to dress like slobs if they are larger than your average teenager.

Women have a much harder time with appearance and clothing. Some anecdotes might help explain what I mean. I have a big neck and big traps. I am a little fatter than I would like and than I should be - about 20% body fat. Because I have that neck I need to buy shirts with a 17 1/2 inch neck - pretty large considering that I am 5' 6" and a half. These shirts are cut for the average man who wears a 17 1/2 neck and 33 inch sleeves - lets just say that there is a lot of fabric in them. I have to order trim-fit shirts just to have them fit appropriately. When I buy suits or sport coats I have to get the athletic cut - and I am not all that athletic. The bulk of the population who buy button-down shirts and affordable suits are cut pear-shaped and so that is how the clothing is cut.

My wife also buys clothing at malls and through catalogues. She finds that the Lands Bean stuff generally fits her, but she has to hit Lane Bryant fairly regularly for clothing and she is not all that heavy (note, she is pregnant at the moment which throws off all such calculations). The norms are different men from women.

So, we can not really take standard clothing sizes as the best measure. But we still have to somehow balance the tension between the repeated messages praising the scrawny and the growing message to love folks the way they are. If we take either message to extremes we end up in bad shape, either walking skellingtons or immobile hulks.
How best should we decide where we belong and what size we should wear our bodies?

The spandex limit that my wife used, half-jokingly, at worldcon is a definition based on personal esthetic principles. As such it will vary a lot from person to person and will inevitably reflect the bias towards the scrawny.

I happen to like fitness, and have long argued - on and elsewhere - that we should decide how to wear our bodies on criteria of fitness and desire. If your body will let you do the things you want to do - walk in the park, play with the kids, chase down your partner for some snugglebunnies, run a race - then your body is fit enough.

While body size does play into this fitness criteria - very heavy people don't tend to take long brisk walks with the dawg - it is incidental. Fitness is a criteria that is measured by something other than the scale and something other than the display rack down at the mall - it is measured by personal desire and personal fullfillment.

And so, while I can understand why Twiddly wants to change her appearance and return to an earlier body shape, I also worry a little. Body shape is like a river, you can not cross it twice. Even if you do get back to an older weight, you will still be differently shaped. Even if you can get back to an older shape, you will still not look as you did. Rather than recapture the past (which can be fun - at one point when I was doing a LOT of running I could wear a suit I had bought 15 years earlier when I was 21) try to maximize the present. She is measuring her progress in weight, which is easy to measure and easy to track. But really, it seems to me, that what she wants is to have more energy for making snugglebunnies, more ability to use her body to interact with her lovers, and a different set of clothing choices.

Those are all laudable goals. I just cringe when I hear "I just want to lose XX more pounds and then I will be happy."

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:56 AM | TrackBack

I hate being sick.

I hate being sick.

I spent much of Friday tired and out of it, I was wrung down, drung down and hung down - it was like having a hangover without ever having gotten drunk first.

I had a wee nap, which helped, but I had to sit on the couch after dinner for half an hour before I had the energy to go bathe the baby.

And how does this relate to a 4:30am blogging? After I got myself to bed around 10:00 or so I was completely unable to sleep. I was in and out of bed all night, tossing and turning for an hour or two before getting up to pee, or to breathe, or to have a drink of water or of milk. I was up from 11 to midnight, 2 to 3, and 4:00am to the present - although this last out of bed moment started when I had a dissertation thought and went to write it down.

I would not mind not sleeping if I could get things done, but I find that I shut down around 10:00 at night and getting any work after that is like squeezing peanut butter - thick, sticky, messy, and not very good.

Well, I got through another few pages of revision, I have a new construction problem to think on - let me go lie in bed and think about it.

And back to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:39 AM | TrackBack

September 12, 2003

Strange dream Dream, September

Strange dream

Dream, September 12, 2003

This was a fever dream, I woke up around 3:00 in the morning to grab more blankets and happened to remember it.

The whole thing is third person - I will write it as a storyboard because that is basically what I did while dreaming.

Open with a shot of an interior household hallway, with a thin film of smoke floating through it.

Narrator "Bobby has been baking cookies."

Cut to:
small boy trying to keep a handful of cookies away from his sisters. They are tickling him and trying to get to his hands - he is lying on his back. The whole thing is vaguely sexual.

Mom "Bobby, Why won't you let your sister have some cookies - you just baked 10,000 of them!"

Boy "but Mom, I am trying to set the world record for eating cookies and cream."

Mom "Give each sister a cookie, then come with me and we are going to have a talk. Girls, go to your rooms."

Cut to mom and bobby in the Kitchen, looking at racks and racks of cookie trays, lots of dishrags are holding trays, laying across the stove, and otherwise adding to the clutter.

Enter Dad, looking confused.
Dad "Why did Fedex just deliver 40,000 pounds of ricotta cheese to our front porch"

Cut to:

Great obscene mound of cookies and cream filling an entire kitchen - like a scene from the blob. Bobby is there with a spoon, eating away.

Time lapse, he is making a dent in it.

Time lapse, he is slowing down.

Bobby is now buried underneath a mound of cookies and cream. All we see is his arm and his voice saying "no more, no more" - he sounds small and unhappy.

his arm is now wrapped around a pillow, Bobby is in his bed dreaming. He is still saying "no more, no more cookies and cream."

The camera pulls back, revealing the other pillows at the top of the bed. Neatly folded across the pillows are the dishrags from the earlier kitchen scene.

Narrator: Behold, the power of cheese.

I woke up, thought about it, pulled up the blankets, and went back to sleep.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:25 AM | TrackBack

Thursday's class We talked

Thursday's class

We talked about New England. I noticed that both here and with Jamestown I tend to spend a LOT of time on foundations and not enough time describing the society that the people created. I will be spending next week on the second half of the 17th century, but there is a LOT to talk about there and I will have to leave some things out.

The students read John Winthrop's Model of Christian Charity for Thursday - I corrected the spelling and trimmed out the long discussion of love from the version linked here. I do believe that this sermon gives a good insight into the goals that the Puritans had - I am glad that we read it. I just need to go through my class notes and trim something else down so that there will be more room for later stuff.

One of my students argued that the call for mutual cooperation in Model is a sign of incipient democracy. I disagreed, arguing that it was a marker of an organic society with a hierarchy. She wrote me a long and well-thought-out email explaining her position. I won't post it as I have not asked for her permission. I like that - it made me think. It also pointed out that I was a little scanty in my discussion of Democratic roots, personal liberty, and religious freedom in my discussion of Puritans.

I need to get better at putting a lot of stuff in a lecture and still going over everything three times so that it sticks.

Back to work or, more likely, to take a nap for I am fighting another cold.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:08 AM | TrackBack

September 10, 2003

Temperance I have a


I have a nice discussion of Temperance reformers, ultra-ism, and biblical literacy. What I need to do is do a better job of integrating this into my argument for the chapter - the first pass draft argued that there was a "categorizational crisis" in the 1840s where Americans looked for new terms to sort and organize religious groups. There is something to that, but I think I went too strong. And, for Temperance at least, the timing differs. Really what happened in the 1840s was that conservatives argued that temperance and slavery were subject to the same ultraism, and so they used the same arguments against both antislavery and against ultra-temperance. In the process they rejected the ultra folks and their attempt to add new tests to church fellowship.

So, the key thing for the 1840s is not the ultraism, but the conservative response. That response is called for because, unlike the early 1840s, the ATS and friends are not trying to harangue all other temperance groups into merging with them - instead they are cooperating for a common goal. That cooperation is what I see religious groups moving towards - but that cooperation also inspires conservatives to argue against the extreme positions (the Last Supper was celebrated in unfermented grape juice) put forward by the ultra temperance men.

This story is important for me because it brings the notion of fellowship back onto the national stage, and, from that second paragraph above, it is important because the temperance people seem to be pre-figuring the sort of cooperation that the Evangelicals will use. The irony is that the same folks who provide the mental architecture for the Evangelical Alliance are also cutting down the Temperance movement for being non-Biblical. I think I can work with that.

I am sleepy and it always takes me forever to get my arguments right. Writing is HARD.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:56 AM | TrackBack

Alas poor printer, I

Alas poor printer, I used you well.

My old Laserjet IIIP died last week. The paper path borked again (the intake was already flaky, now it jams farther along) and it started printing great black lines across the top fifth of the paper. Rather than repair it, it made more sense to replace it.

I miss that printer, I bought it in 1991 the week before starting graduate school to get me through my dissertation. I have worked too slowly, and all the things I bought to get me through graduate school are wearing out before I finish.

I replaced it with a new laserjet 1300. I like the speed, I like the memory, but I do not like the controls. Controls? What controls? There is a go button on the front and everything else is handled through the special printer control software. This would not be so terrible, although I miss the little menu screens, but the printer control software can NOT see the blasted printer. It took me perhaps 20 minutes to plug in the printer and have it print properly, working off the printer port on my Barricade router. I then spent about 6 HOURS installing, uninstalling, trying alternate connections, and all the time trying to get to the control menus. Nothing worked - not upgrading firmware on the router, not using a direct parallel connection between printer and pc, not using a direct USB connection between printer and PC, not setting up a TCP/IP port (that one did not print at all). It was most frustrating and FAR from the best possible use of my time.

I will be writing a nastygram to HP, and I might very well return the printer which I otherwise like. Am I so old fashioned, to want to be able to change the settings on a printer?

And so to think about my work - will probably blog the current construction problem as a think piece.

EDIT - HP sent me an email a day or so later explaining what had never been mentioned in the documentation. Apparantly their printer control software only works through a DOT port, that port only works through a Universal Serial Bus connection. So, I now have two cables running to the printer - a parallel cable from the router to carry the print jobs and a USB cable from my machine to keep track of the settings.

The problem had been in the documentation, not the hardware. I will keep the printer.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

September 08, 2003

Sleeping trouble. I had

Sleeping trouble.

I had sleeping trouble last night for the first time in weeks. Now I am very tired indeed. I think that what happened was that I had taken off my shirt to put calomine lotion on a rash, never put it back on, and gotten a little cold. I don't feel sleepy when I am cold, and so I think I missed my bedtime signals and got off my rhythm. I did not actually feel capable of sleep until about 2:00am, and did not fall asleep until 2:30 or so.

I did NOT want to wake up at 6:00 and insisted on sleeping in until 7:15am or so. Short walk, fast moving morning, and I will only start my day a little late.

And so to have a day

Posted by Red Ted at 07:40 AM | TrackBack

I am grading homework

I am grading homework this morning.

It always makes me restless to grade: Something about sitting there, deciphering what the kids said, figuring out if it is any good or not, writing a few words of critique and encouragement, and doing the whole thing as quickly as possible because there are more-more-more of them all the time. I insist on assigning homework, I do think the kids get a lot out of it. I just hate to grade it and end up forcing myself to stick to it.

Speaking of which, I am at the end of this study break - back to the trenches.

My grading soundtrack today is Nightingale - darn good music, very fluid and gentle and melodic, but with a hidden edge. I like it a lot.

Back to work, still not quite having a proper day

Posted by Red Ted at 01:11 AM | TrackBack

September 05, 2003

Welcome to 1993. WXPN

Welcome to 1993.

WXPN played some Sheryl Crow the other day, "All I Wanna Do," and I liked what I heard. I checked a couple of her cds out of the library and listened to them. I like them, I think I have a new rock artist to follow. I copied the library cds to hard drive, I think I like them enough that instead of burning a cd I will go pay the bucks for an official release - although being cheap it is likely to be a used copy.

And now to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:18 AM | TrackBack

The second day of

The second day of classes was yesterday.

We did first contact, and it again went pretty well. This was my first test of the new approach and so far I like the results. The students read textbook chapters on pre-contact Indians and on early exploration. They then wrote about 200 words (some went way over that) on "Was the Columbian Exchange a Good thing or a Bad thing?" As I had hoped, students were primed to talk and wanted to talk. And, as I hoped, many of the students figured out that it was a loaded question - the CE was terrible for Native Americans especially in the short run. It was a good thing for the world as a whole in the long run.

From that broad overview we then went into the details of the cultures of the 4 continents, talked about Spain and the Aztecs, and then talked about divisions in Native American and in European Societies. I did cover the Iroquois Confederacy in both classes, I did not get through the Reformation in the second class. So, Tuesday I will need to open Jamestown with a review of the Reformation, make that pro-forma in the morning class and more extensive in the afternoon class, and then plan a bonus section for the morning class that will bring the two back into sync.

I think that the afternoon class ran behind for a couple of reasons - I was tired and moving more slowly, the students were more talkative and less to the point, and I was forcing the class to follow the steps that the morning section had taken. I need to let the second class flow more freely - as long as I still hit my high points. Oh, I also got the ending time off by 5 minutes - otherwise I would have trimmed earlier and gotten the Reformation in.

The homework is ok. I started sorting through it and have graded a dozen or so. I spent office hours making sense of my index cards. Later this weekend I will get to make my grading spreadsheet. I also have to find the packing box with my manilla folders - too many loose papers in the backpack.

And now, having painted a closet and blogged once, I get to go write.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:16 AM | TrackBack

September 02, 2003

Today was the first

Today was the first day of school at my Urban University.

I also had a wicked cold - slept poorly, my legs and back hurt, I am on all sorts of cold medicines.

It went fairly well, particularly in the morning section. I am teaching two classes back-to-back, with 10 minutes passing time. One ends at 1:00, the other starts at 1:10. I had no lunch.

The morning class went pretty well, the afternoon class dragged. I think I need to narf a breakfast bar between sections.

I did some interesting things this semester, including a new first-day-of-class exercise. I asked the students to write down a family story. Then we spent a few minutes telling our family stories. Finally, we talked about the relationship between these stories and History, and about the other stories that we tell about groups, places, peoples, and nations. It was a little touchy-feely, but good.

The morning class went on to talk about Why American History. The afternoon class ran out of time and ended - I had spent too much time going over the syllabus.

After reading over my syllabus one last time I am pretty happy with the readings. I am still scant documents written by African-Americans and I have nothing by or about Indians. But, we do have a monograph on slavery in 17th century Virginia and we do have Uncle Tom's Cabin. I am long on nineteenth-century women, particularly the Beechers. The copy shop was interested in my reader - so either they were being polite or I did something right.

And so to write

Posted by Red Ted at 05:19 AM | TrackBack

Eugene Volokh, at,

Eugene Volokh, at, has been hosting some interesting discussions of original intent and the Alabama 10 Commandments case.

At the risk of spilling one of my best sound bites from the dissertation, I would suggest
that the original intent of the ratifiers was that the federal
government should do nothing that appeared to replicate the Church of
England. This was expressed in a number of different formulations and
the formulations evolved over time. In modern jurisprudence this would
lead to decisions that are remarkably similar to those reached by
Justice O'Connor's endorsement test.

The best expression of the Protestant majority in the 1830s is Joseph
Story's paragraph or two in his _Commentaries_ - the interesting thing
there is that as I read the descriptions of Roy's Rock is that it
appears to violate even Story's formulation.

Story believed that Christianity was the basis of the Common Law,
arguing against Jefferson several times on this question. Story
further argued that the state and indeed the nation can support
Christianity in general, but that it can not support or privilege any
sectarian variant of Christianity. Roy's Rock, with its KJV Bible
texts and its position as a shrine, is a sectarian statement and not
just a statement in favor of Christianity in general. The best
contrast to it would be the Bucks County Plaque which was also recently
litigated - there the plaque remained on the courthouse because it 1,
had no text and 2, had no record of the intent of the people who put it

The more interesting thing, and the key point in my argument, is
that no one was ever able to come up with a working definition for
"Christianity in General" - including Story. The concept worked well
as a fuzzy abstraction, but it collapsed any time it was subjected to
scrutiny or definition.

I believe that the nation has tried Judge Moore's interpretation,
decided that it was unstable, and moved back to the enlightenment
religious establishment as the most stable ground for a polity.
Furthermore, it seems to have done so with either a statute of
limitations or a grandfather clause - old and general expressions of
religious endorsement are generally acceptable, new and sectarian
statements are right out.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:14 AM | TrackBack

August 28, 2003

Disaster fiction? My current

Disaster fiction?

My current book on tape is Harry Turtledove's Great War: American Front an alternate history of world war one set in a land where Lee won at Antietam, Britain and France recognized and supported the confederacy before Lincoln was able to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and North America became divided up between Canada, the USA, the CSA, and the Mexican Empire much as Western Europe was.

It is hackwork, but it is more interesting than the other thing I checked out of the library, Dickens's Tale of Two Cities - a novel that did not translate well to book on tape.

What struck me is something that this has in common with, say, John Ringo's stories of alien invasion, Walter Jon Williams The Rift or what I have heard of the Tribulation novels in the Left Behind series. There is something odd in reading about destruction and devastation happening in places where you know the name and the geography, and it can make otherwise plebian prose somehow more compelling. So just as we can go down to Gettysburg and walk the battlefield today, imagining what was happening on those green fields a hundred fourty years ago, so can this disaster fiction take spaces that we know, if only vicariously, and overlay new images onto it.

I don't know if I will finish it, I do not normally read alternate history fiction that overlaps with the stuff that I teach. However, it is a nice change of pace from the heavy diet of military science fiction that takes 19th century colonialism and warfare involving asymetrical technology and imposes it onto some future space - I think I blogged on this a few months ago.

For our drive to Albany this weekend, it will be Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill and Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

And so to lunch.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:28 AM | TrackBack

August 27, 2003

Sleepy day, it has

Sleepy day, it has been a busy few days.

Saturday was baby's first birthday party. We had grandparents, brothers, us, and the baby - 9 adults and the birthday boy. It was fun, it was also our chance to show off the new house, and it was the deadline we needed to get the boxes out of the living room. The little man thinks that vanilla cupcakes are good things (tm).

Sunday was baby's actual birthday. It was a quiet day - Grandpa for brunch followed by a day of working on and around the house. I had forgotten the size of the gulph that separates parents from everyone else when I got confused about brunch timing. Brunch was scheduled for 2 hours after a late breakfast. For us, that meant we slept in until 7:00, ate soon afterwards, and then worked on the house. The grandparents arrived a few minutes before noon, having slept until 10:00 and then having a lazy morning.

Monday and Tuesday I was in the archives about an hour away. I like doing research - skimming sermons, looking at pamphlets, figuring out connections and patterns. I had played in the online catalogue before coming up and had about a dozen pages of things to look at. Many of these were bound in volumes with other pamphlets, and I turned the pages of the volume to see what happy surprises might be in there. I found some new names, including James Henley Thornwell of the OS Presbyterian church who led the movement declaring that Catholic ("Romish" to use the terms of the actual debate) Baptisms should not be accepted by American Presbyterians. Rather, converting Catholics must be re-sprinkled. I looked at a LOT of pamphlets and sermons.

Thornwell led me back to J.R. Graves, about whom I have been doing more reading, and Graves' attempt to hoist Presbyterians on their own petard because of this debate. This pamphlet, the "Tri-lemma," is online - which is good because otherwise I would be reading it on microfiche and I HATE microfiche.

Today was working at home and catching up on houseie things. I primed the linen closet yesterday, was supposed to paint it today but did not. Instead we put more drywall compound around the kitchen heating register and the brace for the upstairs baby gate, and I changed an outlet under the supervision of Mark my handy neighbor. I also worked on syllabus, read Graves "tri-lemma" and started working through my 85,000 characters of notes from Monday/Tuesday. I even took a little nap, and had the cable guy come figure out why our cable modem has an intermittent total failure (gaps in the HBO trap is his bet, he tightened the thingie that keeps us from getting premium cable channels.)

Tonight I get the baby while J does month-end-frenzy from work. I think the little man and I will go grocery shopping. He likes it, and we are low on food. And, unlike going shopping with his grandpa, he does not move slowly - which means I will not have to push to get through the shopping in a reasonable time. Tomorrow I get to have a morning cholesterol test, spend the mid-day working up my notes, and do more housie things in the late afternoon.

Off to water the grass seed.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:34 AM | TrackBack

August 22, 2003

I think I got

I think I got ambitious with my syllabus. I am assigning a lot of reading for a low level class - large textbook, reader, short monograph, and Uncle Tom's Cabin. The last is 509 pages of 19th-century prose. It is an easy book, but it is a long book - especially because many of the kids read only 20-30 pages an hour. That means what, 20 hours of work just to read the novel once.

That said, I am pretty happy with my schedule of readings. They have letters, they have a novel, they have essays, they have women. What is missing are primary documents written by African Americans, and primary documents involving indians. Perhaps I should have used Frederick Douglas's autobiography instead of Stowe's novel. Too late for this semester - the books are ordered.

I spent some time this morning and yesterday afternoon working on turning my notes on the semester into a proper syllabus. I am excited about the changes I am making - it will be a good challenging class. I just fear that I will overwhelm the kids.

And off to run errands, get ready for the baby's 1 year birthday tomorrow, and otherwise do busy work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:32 AM | TrackBack

The house is coming

The house is coming together.

This is good because our pace of unpacking is slowing down. We still have a few boxes in every room, but most of the furniture is where it belongs.

I was sitting in the living room the other day, looking across at the hunter green carpets and the big oak bookcase full of history, and I thought that I liked what I saw. Last night and again early this morning I was in the upstairs looking at the way that the yellowish-white walls glow in morning light or dim incandescent light, and I liked it. It was warm and cheerful and made me think of honey.

And so to work

Posted by Red Ted at 09:27 AM | TrackBack

August 20, 2003

I love the web.

I love the web. I hate the web.

I love the web. It helps me work.

I spent some time this morning preparing for my next library run, following up on a trip Monday to the Princeton Theological Seminary. I was reading library catalogs, pulling call numbers, and doing prepatory work that let me decide where to go, what order to go to places, and what to start reading when I got there. That was great.

And, some of my documents have been placed online, particularly documents that appeal to a constituency or that are in a field with amateur historians. So I was reading James Graves 1880 work on landmarkism online, will read more in it online, and will not spend my precious archive time looking at that particular document.

I hate the web. It distracts me from my work.

I also spent a moment of downtime looking at the Everquest 2 web site. I played Everquest for a while, lost some writing time to it, and if I have the spare time next spring I will probably try EQ2. This would be fine, but a 5-minute study break turned into 30 minutes of looking at screenshots and trying to figure out the new skill trees.

I fear that this blog also distracts me from my work. I justify it becuase it gives me a place to write loose stream-of-consciousness things about my work, my short-term plans, and my life. It is good to keep a diary.

And so to run errands - Ted needs new glasses.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:34 AM | TrackBack

August 15, 2003

The pile of boxes

The pile of boxes goes down and down, hurrah, hurrah (sung to the tune of "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home")

We are starting to see where the house might go. Of course, we still have more stuff than we have space to put it into. The office works - all the books are in - but we don't have anyplace to put computer disks, computer parts, stray notebooks, or my history textbooks. The living room works, except that the stereo, the chair, and the blanket chest are all arguing for posession of the same bit of wall. It would be easier if we did not want a TV in the house, but we do want one. We have had cable for over a week now. The TV has still not yet been plugged in.

I am revising chapter 4, going over it looking for bad logic, awkward phrasings, bloated text and the like. I found a fair bit of kibble to take out. I still wonder if my narrative for the chapter works. I think it does, I am comfortable that I have found some sort of conceptual crisis in 1844-45. I am not sure that I have described it accurately, set up the crisis properly, or properly articulated what changed and why. So, I get to do more.

Things to do today: write, errands, phone calls, move stuff around the house. I have stopped putting my to do list in the blog. Now it sits in Wordperfect and gets copied and edited from day to day. Houses are a lot of work, yep.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:55 AM | TrackBack

August 12, 2003

Back into the swing

Back into the swing of things.

We moved a week ago last week. We are still surrounded by boxes, shifting boxes, shopping for new furniture to set off the contents of those boxes, and otherwise having a grand old time.

The list of projects and things to do has hit two pages, although a chunk of that is the step-by-step to do list for the basement bleach and painting party.

Given all that, this weekend we did the only logical thing. We went to the beach for a couple of days. Relatives were in from Michigan, and from New Mexico, and we baptized my neice. It was good to see people.

Now that I am back, it is write write write and class-prep, class-prep, class-prep.

I am working on chapter 4. I need to come up with something meaningful for the end of the chapter. I still have not gotten up to Princeton to do the reading that will let me change the second section in the chapter. So far I am doing background reading and thinking about how to handle things. Princeton tomorrow.

I have not showered today. We caulked the tub last night and it will take 24 hours to dry. Otherwise I would be halfway to Princeton right now.

To do today:
sand and prime a door
trim and poison the rose plants
shift furniture in my office, get things into a position where I can start emptying boxes.
read the appropriate chapters in: Noll, Holt, Carwardine
Get the course packet to the printers.
Call: electrician (he came Saturday after we left for the shore) and floor guy.
Put up shelves in living room book cases

Posted by Red Ted at 08:44 AM | TrackBack

July 31, 2003

Another long time no

Another long time no blog.


I have been doing detail painting on the upstairs. We are done but for doors, heating registers, and the closet interiors.

We held off on painting the closets until we decided about how to run the HVAC.

I might get a job offer from a county college to the East of us. If I get it, or get another job this fall, we will be moving. It would make sense to do cheap HVAC or no HVAC.

If I get a job offer from a Philadelphia school or give up on academia and take a paper-pushing job, then we will stay put. It would make sense to do a very good HVAC installation.

Right now we are leaning towards waiting till spring to decide about HVAC. That means I get to paint the closets.

I finished cutting chapter 3; it is now 20 pages shorter.

We move on Monday, I get to start packing.

I am thinking about how to rewrite chapter 4. It needs work, I have a quick research run and some historiography to get through. The core concept is very good, but I need to frame things better.

There is currently no internet at the new house. My office is at the new house. My study breaks have involved trimming rose bushes or painting door parts, not writing blogs.

I slept poorly last night, perhaps pizza and 2 sodas at 8:00 pm is not the best idea. But it tasted good at the time (I should not have eaten that fifth slice).

And so to have more day.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:22 AM | TrackBack

July 17, 2003

Long time, no blog.

Long time, no blog.

We started painting the upstairs. My office is finished.
I moved my computer and books to the new office.
I am working on cutting chapter 3, I take study breaks and work on the house or do yardwork.

HVAC is frustrating. We have had a fair number of contractors through. I am looking forward to reading the latest proposal. At the moment no one is agreeing on how much equipment to put in. We have two solid proposals for how to route the return ducts. One through a plaster wall, the other through 2 closets and the eave-space at the side of the house.

I had insomnia again last night, probably related to too much coffee.

The university where I adjunct just offered me two classes for the fall. I will probably take these and tell the CC that I got a better offer. I could teach 5 classes, 2 1/2 preps, but it would kill any writing. Better to finish.

Also, the university where I adjunct is hiring a junior position, specialty open. They will get a lot of applications, but I am going in as well.

I might write a better blog entry at work later today.

And that is all.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:48 AM | TrackBack

July 08, 2003

We spent the holiday

We spent the holiday weekend playing with our new house. I learned all manner of things.

1, The wife and baby are a lot of fun, but more of my projects get done when they are 10 miles away. Of course, none of her projects get done then, but there you go.

2, Plaster is very cool

3, Plaster is very annoying

4, The previous owner did a LOT of interior surface work

5, The previous ownder did his work in a quick-and-dirty manner

6, Scraping the old paint off windowsills takes longer than expected

7, Scraping the old finishing spray off walls can reveal all manner of things - see points 2 and 3.

8, My new electric screwdriver is my favorite tool

9, My can of spackle is also my favorite tool

10, Peeling paint spreads

11, Peeling paint exposes damage to the surface coat of plaster

12, Drywall compound is a recommended product for replacing the surface coat of old plaster.

13, Old houses were built before residential air conditioning

14, Old houses can be air conditioned, but you have to figure out how to pump the return air through the walls - we are not sure if we are going to do this one.

15, Bullnose pine oxidizes and can get water damaged

16, It is not worth sanding water damaged pine floors.

17, Oak finishing strips will double the cost of refinishing your floors, fancy woods will raise it even more.

18, Small, deep holes in plaster walls fill more rapidly if you replace the missing scratch coat with a pill of rolled-up paper.

19, Wear a mask and goggles when using the palm sander

20, Old dress shirts with frayed collars make excellent grubs

21, It takes MUCH longer than expected before you are ready to paint. We are still scraping and filling.

22, Plaster is very cool stuff

23, Plaster is very annoying.

And so it goes.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:20 AM | TrackBack

July 02, 2003

Random thought while grading.

Random thought while grading.

What if I taught the first half of the survey backwards? Start with Reconstruction, ask why Reconstruction did not create a viable bi-racial society, take that back into the way that freeing slaves was not a cause of Northern war effort but a side effect of civil war, take that back to the sectional crisis and secession v unionism, take that back farther.

Advantage: it would give a strong narrative, race and consequences, to the first half of the survey. Although, I might well be able to get same narrative if I teach frontwards. It would also make the survey completely fresh for me, and while I am not yet burned out on teaching the survey I do feel some need to mix it up again.

Disadvantage: the smart kids would love it, the struggling students would be lost at sea. Perhaps use this as my re-cap lecture at the end, perhaps even use it as a set-piece lecture for the first day of class. That would be a lecture, not a discussion, and I need more discussions.

I probably won't do it, but I will work up a precis of a reverse survey to help me focus what I do in part 1 this fall.

And back to grading.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:02 AM | TrackBack

Baby was restless last

Baby was restless last night.

Graded the first third of the exams, then read a little as I was too tired to do a responsible job on the exams but not yet sleepy. Headed for bed around 1:00, just as baby decided he wanted UP ! I rocked him for 15 minutes or so, then passed him to J. She took baby from 1:30 to 3:00, much longer than I had expected - she drowsed on the couch while the baby played. Me, I slept like a log - perhaps because I forgot my niacin. Up at 6:15 to pee, then back to bed till a little after 7:00.

To do today
turn in grades
call the sump guy
head to house and:
drop off chairs and stuff
pick paint color for upstairs
collect tools from bro-in-law
hit the supply stores for: garden hose, spackle/drywall compound
if have time, will move the oak kitchen table from storage unit to the new place.

And now to grade

Posted by Red Ted at 08:30 AM | TrackBack

July 01, 2003

The 11th circuit court

The 11th circuit court gave its decision in the case of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who installed a 5,000 lb statue of the 10 Commandments, King James Version, with supporting quotes, in the rotunda of the state courthouse and then went back and forth between denying that he had created a Christian shrine and asserting that he had every right to create that shrine.

His appeal was rejected, 50 page pdf file

The folks at quote one humerous section of the appeal - Roy Moore first invited the judges at a lower appeal to come look at the installation and then tried to appeal because of that visit.

In general the 11th Court treated Moore like an idiot and practically accused him of nullification for some of his goofier theories about the role of a Chief Justice, state governor, or legislative speaker in interpreting the Constitution.

And back to grading

Posted by Red Ted at 10:21 AM | TrackBack

Slept 12:15 to about

Slept 12:15 to about 6:00. J went to bed around 10:00, I stayed up to work on an application for the CC job and then to read a little.

I do not like Community College job applications for the state of New Jersey. What I have to do here, just as I had to when applying for my current adjunct position, is fill out a standardized form, longhand, with all the same information that is on my vita. The only difference is that now it is in my mediocre handwriting and it is arranged in such a manner that the human resources people can quickly find something. This is not what I expect for a faculty job application; it presumes that the applicant can not write a vita or resume, and writing your vita is one of the first hurdles for most academic jobs. I suppose I should be hopeful, as this suggests that there are fewer random screening hoops, but it still annoys me to do donkey work.

The application wants me to put down my "interests (leisure, community, etc) and I do not know what to do. I have become something of a hermit in the last couple of years, cutting back on my leisure time activities to have more time to stare at my yellow pads. I think I will mention the things I used to do and that I want to do more of.

So, I am a powerlifting contradancer. That works. I won't put down dog obedience training, because I do not compete in it. I will not put down gaming, or everquest, because I am not doing much of it and because it is not all that interesting.

And off it goes, and off I go. I bought a lawnmower yesterday, today I get to put it together and use it.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:14 AM | TrackBack

June 30, 2003

I had trouble sleeping

I had trouble sleeping again; slept 1:30 to 6:00. I went to bed at 10:30, had an idea and got up. Went to bed again at 11:00, had an idea and got up. Finally I just wrote down my thoughts and the references I had chased down, sent it to myself as an email, and tried as hard as I could to unwind and relax.

Finally, after reading other blogs, I got to bed around 1:00 and fell asleep half an hour later. I had been tired earlier, I guess I got my second wind or something.

We had a busy day today: walked through the new house, closed, went over the house to start making more detailed "to do" lists, had lunch, came back to the house, went home, called my folks, went shopping for plaster repair tools and paint chips to match colors with, and now here we are. J is heading to the gym. I should go to the gym, but I am tired and a little clumsy. I should also fill out the hand-written application for a full time job at a nearby CC. I hate filling in things by hand, but I do not have Acrobat so I can not fill it in online and I do not feel like digging out the typewriter and hoping that I will not need to use the letter z (which is broken).

And so to do something useful, even if just walk the dawg.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:46 AM | TrackBack

June 29, 2003

Sunday, Sunday. J sez:

Sunday, Sunday.

J sez:
"We close on the new house tomorrow. EEEP!"

We did not make it to the bank to get the certified check on Saturday, we both forgot about it after stressing all Friday about not being told the closing costs. So, tomorrow morning we dash out of the house, drop off the baby at daycare, walk-through the house, get the check from the bank, and close.

We are still unclear about the status of the shared driveway. We would also like to know where on the property the right of way for the utilities runs.

We spent part of this afternoon shopping: we want a new couch, and a dehumidifier, and we will be doing a lot of things to the house once we get our hands on it.

Other than that, it was an errands and housework day. I commented half a dozen papers, went to the grocery store, went to the farm stand, had a nap, and relaxed. J did vast quantities of laundry, barbecued chicken to feed us half of next week, and did some filing. The baby had been constipated; he was cranky today. He also decided he does not like to be fed with spoons - he wants to feed himself with his hands. This made meals frustrating until we figured out what was going on.

Tired and sleepy, and we have an early morning. Heading to bed before I get my second wind.
And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

Sleep report. Slept from

Sleep report.

Slept from 9:50 to about 7:00, about 9 hours of broken sleep. Was a little cold until 1:30 or 2:00 when I added pajama pants. Then I was too warm for the rest of the night. Go figure. But, the baby slept through except when he lost his binkie. Turning the AC up to 78 seems to have helped the little man sleep, and indirectly that helps us sleep.

Things to do today

Comment the papers
Couch shopping?
Babysit while J works
Grocery shopping
Re-read chapter 4, especially the first 22 pages.

And so to walk the hound and the baby

Posted by Red Ted at 07:31 AM | TrackBack

June 28, 2003

Morning update. Slept 2:00

Morning update.

Slept 2:00 to 7:30, about 5 and a half hours. After having an afternoon nap yesterday I got some more grading done. J cooked dinner, after dinner we went looking at couches. Around 9:00 I went back to grading. I worked some, but I was working and looking over to the computer, and grading, and looking aside. And the later it got, the more looking aside I did. I was having trouble keeping myself on task, in part because the papers are not so wonderful. Finished first pass on the papers, graded the homework.

By midnight I had fallen into my late night fugue, where I was tired but not sleepy, reading stray fiction from the net, and trying to decide what to do next. The only good news is that I read Lois McMaster Brujold's very good short story "The Mountains of Mourning". I think I have found a new author. The Baen program of giving away short stories and backlist novels is a really effective marketing device.

For today:
Markup the papers
Revise my think piece on the writing process
Read and comment the first 22 pages of the revised chapter 4
Look at the crucial middle sections of chapter 4 and think about how to better recast my arguments about Temperance, anti-Catholicism, and ecclesiology.
and a morning nap!

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:21 AM | TrackBack

Mid-day plans. That was

Mid-day plans.

That was a very good and a very needed nap. I slept on the couch from 10:00 to 12:30. I had my head back and my neck was compressed, so I had the strange dreams about waking from a dream within a dream, and much of the time that was all happining within another dream. I call it paralytic napping; the body lies there and I think about getting up and moving around but then, somehow, I am back on my back and nothing has happened. The frame for these dreams was a large family get together, somewhere rural, with my extended family and J and some of our friends and family friends. I was taking a nap before walking down the dirt road to the lake and the marsh, and I kept starting that walk and wondering why I was looking up, then waking and realizing that I was still in the spare bedroom of the smaller of the two houses everyone was staying in at the time. (At the same time, of course, I was still on our couch.)

I heard from my second reader about chapter 3. He loves the conclusion, thinks the whole thing is too long, things I need to cut back the blockquotes and thicken much of the narrative with more embedded evidence, and finally that I do not do a good enough job laying out the argument and the upcoming material at the start. Oh, and the historiography is thin.

My current thought is to take the rest of the day off. I have been grinding at constantly lower and lower efficiencies all week. I think if I take a day off it will actually help me for the rest of the week.

And off I go.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:13 AM | TrackBack

June 27, 2003

Non sequitor. Sometimes I

Non sequitor.

Sometimes I think about getting a tattoo. If I did, I would want something big, something like a male equivalent to this backpiece (r-rated photo). It would be some sort of a large dragon coiling around my back, perhaps running down. The coiling and wrapping beast is a female look: men tend to wear something more X-shaped and wrapping sideways to emphasize their width while women go vertical to emphasize their length. But, it would be lots of money to get a good one, and we could spend the money better elsewhere. And, I would have to shave my back. I don't like to shave my neck, I do not shave my beard. I have no desire to shave below the neck and would not keep it up.

And back to grading. (I mostly wanted to save a link to that dragon)

Posted by Red Ted at 12:55 PM | TrackBack

Writing thoughts. I had

Writing thoughts.

I had trouble settling down to grade. I do not like to grade while cranky, it is not fair to the kids. And today I was tired and cranky. So, I re-read Joe's comments on chapter 4 yet again. Then I cranked out 1800 words on how I write and why I write that way. I think I will edit it a bit and then send it to Joe. Right now it is discursive and stream-of-consciousness (only with grammar).

However, writing down my current angst about the writing process seems to have cleared my head enough to grade. So, off I go to read about Caning Sumner and the election of 1856.

And so to grade

Posted by Red Ted at 11:03 AM | TrackBack

Morning update. In bed

Morning update.

In bed 2:40 to about 6:30. Had trouble getting to sleep even after staying up and drinking milk until I was tired. After going to bed I lay there for a while fashing myself about my advisor's comments. Was so tired I forgot to check the time when I got up, except that I know it was after the second alarm. Call it a scant 4 hours of sleep.

I got my advisor's comments on chapter 4 last night, by email. He thinks the ending is solid, but there is "a lot of muck" before we get there. He got cranky about my grammer, I checked, it was a sentence I had missed when proof-reading. I feel less incompetant to know that I did not misunderstand the grammar, I just missed the proofread. I would rather be sloppy than get the principles wrong - I am not sure what that says about my personality or my choice of career fields.

He thinks there might be some there there, but I NEED to: sharpen my arguments, get rid of the dreck, write in a less rhetorical prose style, add some substance to my ending point, and rethink the crucial 3 sections that lead up to my conclusion. Basically, it needs a complete rewrite.

Class last night went fairly well. We did Reconstruction and then we did exam review. I made it through 1872 and the start of Redemption, halted before we got to the actual end of the class. It was still closer to the end than any of their previous classes, but I still felt a couple of hours scant of complete coverage.

We went over the exam, I had 5 possible questions for the long and for the short essay. I planned to go down to 4 of each, let them talk me into 3 of each. Alas, we voted, and my favorite short essay question got nixed. It was one they could have handled well, but a plurality felt that they had had too much political history.

Compare and contrast the "First Party System" of Federalists and Democratic-Republicans with the "Second Party System" of Whigs and Democrats. How did each begin? How did each function? How did each end?

I think it is a good solid coverage question. I spent a lot of time on party politics, they had a lot of information they could have used, the question spanned four different class sessions, the equivalent of four weeks of a regular semester. But they did not want it and I chose to remain within the democratic process I had created.

After class I asked a couple of the extroverts what I could do better next time. Once they realized I was serious they gave some good advice. Let me see if I remember it all.

    For military classes

  • the military is conditioned to 50 minutes of class, 10 minute break. Perhaps use Taylorism, have 2 breaks and go faster between them.
  • Military students are more motivated, they also have more pressures on their time. I was very good about being flexible with their work requirements, but some of my assignments were overwhelming. Including:
  • Hand out a sample midterm as part of the syllabus. Do not surprise people with written exams - the military is all multiple choice exams. (Alternatively, try to work up a test bank. But, after my experience with multiple choice questions during Western Civ, I am gun-shy of test banks.)

    For general classes
  • Show less of Midwife's Tale which they found dry and more of Uncle Tom's Cabin which they found gripping.
  • Keep the homework
  • More discussion, less lecture, but they realize that is hard to manage while doing coverage
  • They were frustrated at times by my choices of what to focus on. Instead of covering everything the text does, at the same weight, I cover some things more and cut back on others I chose a set of topics that gave me a narrative of political history leading up the Civil War. In the process I shortchanged women's history, popular culture, and other fields. I never got around to giving the lecture on how to tip a hat, I did not hit Catherine Beecher until the last day of classes. I need to read Rebecca Edwards's book before I next teach; her dissertation looked solid and I want to see how she fleshed it out.
  • Use more Hollywood movies, but use short clips the way Balogh does in his lectures - to spice things up or make a short point. This was a Good Idea (tm) and I will do it.

Things to do today: Get into a better mood, then grade Go to the bank and get the certified checks for the closing Pick up baby and drop off monday gear Cook dinner Figure out if I want to revise 4 right away or if I want to shelve it and rewrite 2 first.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nap time! I have

Nap time!

I have not been very effective today. Finally I lay down and napped. I think it was 45 minutes, but it could have been more. Lets see if I can grade a little more now.

Posted by Red Ted at 04:31 AM | TrackBack

June 26, 2003

Conservatives and Burke: While

Conservatives and Burke:

While procrastinating I was surfing Glen Reynold's Instapundit, who I like even when I disagree with him, and followed one of his links to the National Review Online. I read but a few words and closed the page. Why? Because from the tone, which was highly contentious, and from the other things I have read on the NRO and the current version of the National Review, I realized that I was working from the basic assumption that nothing on that web page would be reliable. It was a political rant about Vermont politics, and censorship, and I just did not believe a word of it - even before I read it. The National Review, like many other political sites, is closer to talk radio than it is to a 20th-century newspaper. It has become more ideological since I last read it regularly in the 1980s, and that in turn was more partisan than it was when the magazine was first founded in the 1950s. I feel a little like Indie Rock Pete from Diesel Sweeties when I say that.

Talk radio, like many 19th-century newspapers, is expressly ideological. The function is not to inform but to convince. Advocacy journalism has absolutely no hesitation about spinning facts, leaving information out, giving an intentionally misleading presentation, and so skewing our understanding by selectively limiting and spinning what it presents. Even when I agree with the advocate, this bothers me. In the case of the NR, or George Will, it bothers me so much that I just tune them out. I like to think of myself as a critical moderate, over the last few years I have become more left-leaning while the national Republican Party has become more aggressive and more radical.

I won't call them conservative, because they are no longer conservative. For me, Conservative is an essentially Burkean position. It focuses on the tie between the generations that came before, the generation alive today, and the generation not yet born. It focuses on preserving order, and liberty, and life across generations and across time. Conservativism resists change. It can be good or bad, you can be conservative and emphasize human needs and human caring, or you can be conservative and emphasize the maintenance of ancient privileges. It is easy to use an appeal to the time-honored customs of the past as a way to privilege and continue present inequalities.

Radicals, then, try to change past precedents. Like Jefferson or Paine, they emphasize that the earth belongs to the living. For TJ, this meant that every generation must decide its own political arrangements and decide what its fundamental laws should be. For Paine this meant that we should not let the dead hand of past privilege limit what people today want to do.

In the modern context, oddly enough, the environmental movement is more Burkean, and more conservative, than the Bush administration. Teddy Roosevelt had it right when he tried to preserve some portions of the national heritage for future generations; If we look at the world, its resources and its options, as something that we hold in trust and that, as good stewards, we must care for and then pass on to the next generation, then we make very different decisions. The earth may belong to the living, but the living do not have the right to take it all for themselves and leave nothing for the future.

In the case of the environment, the current debates on everything from global warming to trace pollutants look very different when we change the question from "we must be clean now" against "we need jobs now" to "what is the best balance of development and preservation to make sure that we have both people and environment for the future." In more partisan terms, it means that the recent spate of Bush tax cuts are a situation where th present generation is having its cake, and taking that cake from the future.

How did I get to this from the National Review? Ah yes. There is a remarkably short-sighted and presentist approach to many of the current right-wing folks. They want to get their tax cut now, and (perhaps intentionally) cripple the future tax system. They want to win this debate, right here and right now, and do not seem to care about future arguments. In the process, as advocates spin the truth and abuse their evidence, they begin to chip away at our faith in the debating process. Lying might win you one argument, but repeated lies destroy our trust in all speakers. I find that I do not believe the National Review, even when they are right. I do not trust and do not believe John Ashcroft, in part because I just plain do not like the policies he proposes. I do not trust George W. Bush: His rhetoric and his policies are fundamentally disconnected.

I need to do real work, more on this later. Note to self, talk about Ashcroft, and the WMD dilemma - they were once there, we have no records of where they went, yet the Bush administration claimed more specificity than it had while making the case for war. They won their case, but lost credibility because they over-stated their argument. It is like what Tanenbaum calls "stupid cop tricks." Delete this paragraph after write more.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:42 AM | TrackBack

Finished prepping class. I

Finished prepping class. I am going to do my usual Reconstruction, only in more depth. The document for the day is the 14th amendment.

I forgot to turn up the air conditioning, and the apartment got hot. I do not focus well when I am hot, I have to be a little chilly to work. In contrast, I have to be warm to sleep. So, while warm, I went and surfed blogs for a little while. The internet is vastly distracting, but it is also chock full of resources - documents, library catalogs, etc - that I use while working. I am ok as long as I concentrate.

My current light reading is the first volume of Anais Nin's unexpurgated diaries. They are still abridged, mostly removing repetitive things like her formal greeting to the diary at the start of each entry. While on the can I finished reading the fall of 1914. She is a remarkable writer for an 11-year old, pensive, caring, and most amazingly eloquent. I must remember that even these diaries have been returned to and polished, nothing that she wrote is the first rough draft of her life. In contrast I almost never revise these, other than perhaps fixing the grammar later that same day.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:37 AM | TrackBack

Random thoughts from mid

Random thoughts from mid morning.

J pointed out that I goofed when I filled the jam jars. I had just assumed that I would have more jam than I did last time, and I filled 6 at once so that the fruit would be evenly distributed. Now I have 6 small jars of jam, in large mason jars. They look like closer to 11 oz than the 16 that the jars hold. So, not tonight but soon, I get to make another water bath, dump the jam into a pot, bring it warm enough to pour, and then re-can the jam into 5 jars and a little leftover on the side.

Today's newspaper had a recipe for a variation on jam made by weight: equal weights berries and sugar, combine, heat till clear (5 minutes) and let sit overnight. Next day, bring a small quantity to the boil and can as soon as it jells. It should make a softer pack than what I have been doing, with more fruit flavor. The sitting, I guess, is so that the natural pectin from the fruit can do its thing without waiting for the jam to boil and boil and boil. I am intrigued, and will make a batch of it.

I pasted the beginning of chapter 4 together and printed it out. This is longer, 22 pages, and I think there is some fluff in it. Started working on class for tonight, will get class in order then edit what I printed out. Sleepy and having trouble concentrating, just made a pot of coffee and am blogging while it drips. It was that or put away dishes and finish scrubbing pots from late-night jamming. I HATE doing dishes, I like to blog. It was an easy choice.

And back to work, for I hear the pot, the pot a calling.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:24 AM | TrackBack

Thursday morning. Slept 11:00

Thursday morning.

Slept 11:00 to 6:30, call it 7 and a half hours. Baby was fairly quiet during the night. I am tired, will take a nap before driving out to teach, but I had enough sleep in the bank that one night of bad sleep seems not to have crippled me.

Things to do today
splice together the new parts of chapter 4
swing by the lawyer's, pick up documents and drop off a check
library run
dry cleaning run?
prep class
prep final exam
drop off book on tape at CC library, pick up blue books for the exam.
teach Reconstruction

Posted by Red Ted at 06:53 AM | TrackBack

Blog before bed, June

Blog before bed, June 25, 2003

Blogger is down, and I wanted to write up my day. So, I am writing in WP and will paste this in later.

It was a tired, ineffective day. The best things I got done today were housework. I went to the bank, did some food shopping, made a turkey Moussaka for dinner, made strawberry jam after dinner, ran 3 loads of laundry, and registered my blog on a couple of blog finders.

I also wrote one sentence, count it. That is nowhere near enough. I was tired and distractable and did not trust my own abilities. I still should have ground out a page or two. I did read and comment on a student draft paper, but that was not enough.

The only good news is that while I had a lot of coffee this morning, perhaps contributing to my distractable day, I went without a nap. I should be able to get to sleep tonight, even after licking the pot from making jam.

This is the third batch of strawberry jam. I bought the berries Sunday and they sat in the fridge for three days. One of the quart containers froze at the back of the fridge, neither was as tasty as fresh berries. This jam is not as good as jam number two - a little thin and tasteless; it is still better than jam number one. Note to self, try some different brands of pectin. The Sure-Gell has been taking a long time to get to the boil and the jam always smells much better when it is at the scald than when it has gotten all the way to a rolling boil. I got 6 12 oz jars of jam that is good enough to give away. I now have enough strawberry jam. I might make a fourth batch, but I want to get the Seville oranges out of the freezer before we move. I intend to make a marmalade this weekend. I am thinking about making a pectin marmalade and trying to get more fresh, aggressive fruit taste.

We have a new loaf of bread in 20 minutes or so. Once it dings I will pull the bread, take the hound out, and so to bed.

Off to try to grind a few more words.

Looking over the changes to the section on Controversies, it appears to be blurring into the following section on Doctrines. I am arguing that repeated controversies had the effect of forming religious groups into four doctrinal blocks. Then I talk about the Methodists and the Christian Spectator and will argue (still writing this para) that the Christian Spectator and the New Haven theologians were betwixt and between and provoked so many controversies because they were between religious blocks. They were neither fish nor flesh, and people refused to let them act like beef while calling themselves salmon.

But, the doctrines section, argues that there was a two-tiered divide about doctrine. On the macro level, some people cared about doctrines and others consciously dropped them. On the micro level, people held doctrinal disagreements. That point should really come before I get into the argument between the Methodist Mag and the Christian Spectator. So, by re-writing my discussion about Controversies it appears that I will have to rewrite my section on doctrines as well. More work, more revision, more rewriting, and I just WANT TO BE DONE.

I am getting frustrated with the amount of work left, and frustrated with my lack of ability to keep myself at productive work.

OK, an hour later, I finished controversies, NOW I can go to sleep. 10:40 pm.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:51 AM | TrackBack

June 25, 2003

Civil war rifles and

Civil war rifles and muskets

Final random thought. I went and double checked something that I told the kids last night. Yes, the Civil War was mostly fought with muzzle-loading weapons. I told them that most used muzzle-loading rifles firing minie balls, it looks like there were a fair number of muzzle loading smoothbores as well. Repeating rifles did not come into play until the last years of the war.

Due to the low level of training and minimal live-fire practice, most Civil War soldiers were slow shots and not very accurate. They were lucky to get 3 shots a minute, and while the rifles were accurate to 300 yards the men were generally only accurate to 100 yards. Men had a normal load-out of 40 cartridges, sometimes 60 or even 80, and at the end of one all-day battle one regiment averaged 24 shots fired per man; unless you were receiving a charge you did not fire at maximum rate.

In contrast, Bernard Cornwell who does some research suggests that the British regulars practiced with live ammunition and got 4 or 5 shots a minute with Brown Bess muskets in the 1810s. These were accurate to 50 yards, dangerous to 300.

As a final note, I remember reading something about mid 20th-century weapon designers looking into ww1 experience and some ww2 experience and deciding that most weapons were fired at ranges of less than 300 yards. This meant that the 1000 yard effective range of a 30-06 was more power than was necessary, and they could reduce the cartridge, cut weight, and add shots per pound by making a weapon that could only fire as far as it was useful. So the Civil War rifled muskets were accurate at battlefield ranges, although the troops themselves had little practice at firing by volleys and by the numbers.

This is not my dissertation.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:31 AM | TrackBack

As I Roved Out

As I Roved Out

The radio station in my head is playing "As I Roved out". I know the version by Boiled in Lead best, but I am having trouble finding those words.

Here are one set but not what I remember. This is closer to the words I know. This one is a melding of the two above, the one I know and the rude lines about the horsie. This source suggests that it is an Irish variant of the ballad of the trooper and the maid. The Glasgow Guide does not have this ballad but it has many many more.

Ah, here we go. Here is the album by Boiled in Lead and here is a Real-audio version of the first minute of the version I know.

It is a simple tune, and it sticks in my head, and I make up nonsense lyrics and sing them to the baby.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:02 AM | TrackBack

Slept 4:30 to 7:30,

Slept 4:30 to 7:30, a scant 3 hours.

The last few times I drove out to the CC I scared myself by getting very sleepy on the drive out. So, yesterday I resolved to take a nap before I went. I napped for about 45 minutes, perhaps a little longer, from 2 to 3. Then, while driving out, I drank a mug of hot tea.

Class went well, we finished the sectional crisis and talked about the Civil War. The students were interested, they asked questions, they were involved. It was a pretty good class despite having a disorganized and topical approach the the war.

After class two students wanted me to look over rough drafts, I did not get out until 9:15 or later. Got home after 10:00 and had a mushroom omelette and some toast.

Then I could not sleep. I read for a while, thought about sleep, read some more, thought about sleep, finally got to bed very late. I finished David Weber & John Ringo March to the Sea, a not very good military science fiction novel. Read a couple of chapters of Weber's Honor Harrington novels online from the Baen website. Weber writes good space opera. He has most definitely moved onto my list of things to scour the used bookstores for.

I am glad that I was not sleepy while driving, that really did scare me. I am also glad that I only have two more of these night classes to go.

Things to do today:
finish controversies section
splice together new front of chapter 4.

And so to have a day

Posted by Red Ted at 09:10 AM | TrackBack

June 24, 2003

I am having trouble

I am having trouble concentrating on my writing. Went and read Liz speaks. Why do I tend to read political blogs written by men and personal blogs written by women?

The good news is that I prepped for this afternoon's class while procrastinating, all but pulling acetates. I will review it one more time before I go.

We are doing the Civil War today. I decided to use the Gettysburg Address as my in-class document. I did a little digging and found the Library of Congress website on the address. I am not giving that to the kids, just the plain text. I decided that the Gettysburg Address, like the Declaration of Independence and Winthrop's Model of Christian Charity, is one of those fundamental documents that everyone should read in high school. Many people have not read them, or did not read them carefully, so I am going to continue to use them in the survey. Take the survey from me and you WILL increase your cultural literacy.

I am teaching at a military base, I am very curious how this will hit a group of active duty soldiers, sailors and airmen. (Air folks? Airpeople? Remind me to ask what is the best gender-neutral term for Air Force personell).

I find that the GA is still a remarkably powerful document. It hit me as I was reading it, and I was reading it to myself. It was written to be read aloud. I am going to start the document by asking one of the students to read it aloud to the class. Then we will talk about what Lincoln meant by it, how he was changing the meaning of the war, how the sentiments in the GA differ from "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." and "We, the people ... in order to form a more perfect union ...." and, if I feel snarky, "We are gathered together in this work as one man ..."

Bonus points to any commentator who can name all three things I quoted. (Easy quiz)

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:34 AM | TrackBack

Slept 10:15 to 6:30.

Slept 10:15 to 6:30. Call it 8 hours. It was broken sleep: I was up a couple of times to pee, the baby was up a couple of times to cry. J discovered that the air conditioning was set on 72, 74 or 75 is better for everyone and especially better for little men who flop around like fish and lose their blankets during the night.

Things to do today:
prep class
phone calls: power company, sump pump, two air conditioner guys
library run (optional)
write, should be able to finish the revised controversies section today.

And so to breakfast and to walk the hound, not sure in which order.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:05 AM | TrackBack

David Walder Short Victorious

David Walder Short Victorious War

Over lunch and then while digesting lunch I finished reading David Walder's Short Victorious War. This is a general history of the Russo-Japanese war, written in the 1960s, with good bibliography and no historiography. Walder is telling the story of the war, and as he says in his afterwards, he has no patience for footnotes. So, he made sure that every reference and every quotation gave the reader enough information to find the materials in the bibliography or through a brief application of common sense.

I picked it up, in part, because I was looking in the library catalog for David Weber's Sci-Fi novel of the same title. I read a lot of military science fiction, it makes good brain candy. I picked up Weber's Honor Harrington books a couple of weeks ago and have added him to my "I want it, but will only pay used prices" list.

A lot of military science fiction is bloody, unrealistically so in many cases. The modal narrative is generally drawn from European expeditions into Africa in the 19th century, with hordes of poorly armed native troops charging the Europeans in their square with rifles and machine guns. Some authors make explicit reference - I have seen the battle of Rourke's Drift refought a hundred times in fiction. Others simply draw on the era, Jerry Pournelle's Mote in God's Eye had a fictional technology explicitly chosen to recreate they conditions of coal-fired, short-range naval ships at the turn of the 20th century. In many ways the Victorian era is the model for most of the military science fiction: nobles, loyal retainers, great powers playing the game of kings, powerful fleets with significant support requirements - it has all the background elements and it is always easier to modify a known set of relations than to make it all up from scratch.

So, I checked out and then read a real history of conflict in the era, because I was tired of reading about the fiction. Walder wrote a good, solid, readable book. I now know more than I did; I might refer to Walder when I next teach world history or Western Civilization. I felt bad for the Russian soldiers, poorly led, poorly inspired, well enough fed but otherwise poorly served by their officers and by the regime itself. Walder argues, with merit, that the Russians were incompetant, disorganized, and inexperienced for their ranks and tasks. The generals were all old men, command structures were divided and confused, and their communications and control mechanisms were non-existant. The japanese were equally brave, perhaps braver in the attack while Russians were braver in the defence, but were better led at all levels. That is the sort of thing that makes a big difference.

And now back to work, will cut out a little early and hit the library on my way to go teach. I have 8 to return including some music cds and 6 to pick up.

Posted by Red Ted at 01:54 AM | TrackBack

June 23, 2003

Had a fairly productive

Had a fairly productive morning, sleepy afternoon. I did finish planning the controversies section, I now know what to do with it. Had a nap this afternoon, hope I don't stay up too late tonight. No caffeine today.

Went to the gym, first time in 2 weeks. Before that it had been 2 weeks, and again 2 more weeks before then. I have been busy, and working, and earlier was a little sick.

Gym weight 177.6 before workout, 174 1/4 after shower and without clothes. That is a couple of pounds above 2 weeks ago, about the same as a month ago. But, since 6 weeks ago I have gotten soft and weak. My right front deltoid is sore and weak again. My knees are sore and fragile.

  • 4:00 bike, stretch, hcp bar *8, oh squat bar *5, front squat bar *8
  • squats, high bar, bar 5, low bar, bar *3. Knees complained so I stopped.
  • sldl, bent knees, tried not to straighten them. 95*5, 135*5, 185*8,8
  • leg extension, cybex, 40*5, 50*10,10
  • exercycle, recline, 15 resist, 52 rpm, 30:00 minutes, 458 "calories"

Was a light workout, but I need light workouts. I think it is time for me to stop lifting heavy - it is too demanding on my concentration. I am also starting to get old enough that the high blood pressures that go with heavy lifts are becoming dangerous. I had originally planned to lift heavy until I was 40, competing in one masters powerlifting event before dropping the weights back down again. Based on my recent training pattern, I think I need to cut back the effort earlier.

Made diablo sauce for dinner. Note to self, even when J is not cranky after a hard day of work she can not eat my diablo sauce any more. I need to drop that from the repertory of family dinners. It was actually a little mild; only the first half-bowl was hard to eat. My usual pattern is 1 hot pepper for spicy, 3 for diablo, 4 is just right. This was 3 and a half peppers, less some of the ribs. I liked it, J had a small bowl and then cried uncle.

Did some housework, talked with bro-in-law, and now to work. Sometime in the future remind me to blog my interpretation of Hollywood movies and American history.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:24 AM | TrackBack

Slept 9:15 to 6:15,

Slept 9:15 to 6:15, just under 9 hours. I feel pretty good. No naps today, and minimal caffeine, and lets hope I can get to bed at a reasonable time tonight.

To do today:
bank run
farm stand
coffee run
dry cleaning
and write write write

I am once again revising the beginning to chapter 4. I really don't want to be doing this again so soon, I wanted to work on something else. But, the beginning is terrible and needs revision.

I had a good reminder last night while falling asleep. The key to controversies is process; controversies continue over an extended period of time, and while individual controversies have consequences the extended process of controversy does ... something.

Now I need to get a better handle on what that "something" is. Perhaps: Controversies formed an extended discourse about religious groups and civil society; they indicated what was possible and what was expected of any religious group. Beyond these civil questions, controversies also handled doctrines and practices. Again, there was unity in diversity, for while religious groups differed on salvation, and free will, and the nature of Christ, they agreed on the nature of knowledge, on how we make sense of the world, and that there were meaningful and permanant definitions.

That last is both trite and repeats the point that whats-his-name made about the Owen-Campbell debates about the Bible. I like the notion of controversies as a process, I need to think more about what that process means.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:21 AM | TrackBack

June 22, 2003

Up late reading. Slept

Up late reading. Slept 4:20 to 8:30, call it 4 hours. Too much sleep two nights ago, and a lot of coffee during the day.

Finished a pass through historiography yesterday afternoon, started looking into the doctrines section again. The problem with it is that I 1, did not really know what I was trying to argue and 2, messed up my chronology while making a timing argument. Try again, from scratch.

And so to walk a very patient hound

Posted by Red Ted at 09:12 AM | TrackBack

Spent a sleepy day

Spent a sleepy day thinking about the dissertation and brainstorming in a yellow pad. I think I have an angle to take on controversies, but it is still a little incomplete. I am dropping the timing argument, sticking to the two points that controversies continue while the subject matter changes and that evangelical does not equal friendly.

I had more decadence today. I ordered pizza from Santinos for a late lunch/early dinner and pigged out. I got two mediums, one a classic neapolitan with anchovies and the other one a neapolitan with ricotta cheese and fresh tomatoes. It is tomato season, that one was better than the evil fishes was.

Spent part of my downtime shopping. Now that the summer loan has come in I get to make my summer book order. I spent too much money on Saturday, buying books from the Liberty Fund. I have about $200 left in the summer budget.

So, I went to Amazon, I checked the things I used to have in my wish list and saved shopping cart, I asked Amazon for recommendations and added a few, I added a few authors I want more of, and I flipped through the last year's JAH and JER to look at the reviews. Now I get to trim down $700 in book orders. It would have been even more, but the county library has about 9 of the books I was half-wanting to buy. I am down to $500, will trim it more tomorrow.

I like book, I like to read, I am getting excited about reading history even though only about a third of these are related to the dissertation. Many of the things related to the dissertation have come out since after I first hoped to be done done done - I almost need to do another round of reading just to catch up on my own specialty.

For fun reading this week I knocked off some more Baen books, either electronically or on the library, started a history of the 1905 Russo-Japanese war, and finished Franklin's Writings in the LOA edition. None of the fiction was good enough to write about.

And so to controversies

Posted by Red Ted at 05:55 AM | TrackBack

June 21, 2003

Ed was wondering "I

Ed was wondering "I think it is important that the government not set it's own puritanical values as the law. Why exactly is it the role of the government to say that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman?"

Is it appropriate for the government to prevent incestuous marriages? Forced marriages? Child marriages?

If so, then you have set the precedent for government (i.e. the force-using institution that represents the will of the people, however imperfectly) to restrict what one person can do to another using the legal institutions originally designed to control the intergenerational transfer of property.

Many of these laws were set up to protect people. Consider the case of a girl who is the heir to property. In the absense of these laws, and during the era of coverture in which a women lost all independent legal identity once married, it would be trivial for someone to kidnap the girl, run her in front of a bribed priest, and then take her property and legally rape her. That would be bad, so government got into the business of regulating marriage.

The early national marriage laws I have read, (I read the laws of Virginia and Pennsylvania for a research project) all try to balance three imperatives: they want to protect the property of minors, they want to prevent incestuous or forced marriages, and they want to make the institution widely available in a land without enough celebrants.

The whole business about one man and one woman is yet another case of someone taking one particular set of customs and asserting that they are natural law.

For example: Polygamy is a bad deal for most men, but many societies use it. (The rich get wives, the poor go single) You can argue against polygamy for many reasons, but not from the notion that no society uses it and all societies that are not mongamous couples always fall apart.

As a public policy question, we have a large portion of the polity who are in heterosexual mogamous marriages and like it. We have an extensive body of law and regulation that knows how to deal with questions of property, identity, inheritance, and mutual care for these people.

We have a meaningful portion of the polity who are in heterosexual monogamous relationships - boyfriend and girlfriend who are together for years, own property together, and even have children. They are domestic partners, and they are a tricky bit in the law. Some people argue that their honeys should get medical benefits, hospital visitation privileges, and the like. Others say "NO" - if you want the benefits of marriage then go get married.

We have a small portion of the overall polity but a meaningful portion of the non-heterosexual population who are in long-term monogamous relationships. Some of these people want the benefits that come with committment. They have been having some success at getting recognition for domestic partners since they have not had a chance to marry.

The stiicking point in much of the reasoned opposition to benefits for domestic partners is how to distinguish a same-sex partnership that is marriage in all but license from an intermediate term heterosexual partnership where they want the benefits of marriage without the label or committment.

Opening the institution of marriage to any two people who want to make that commitment is the best way to resolve it. And, contrary to Santorum and his buddies, there are ways to ground this outside of privacy laws. We can argue that we want to support two-person couples and continue to deny the legitimacy of polygamous marriages, incestuous marriages, or child marriages.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:18 PM | TrackBack

Slept 9:30 to 8:30,

Slept 9:30 to 8:30, eleven whole hours! I needed the sleep.

Today is a writing frenzy day, with short breaks for
Local library
philadelphia library
farm stand

And so to walk a very patient hound

Posted by Red Ted at 09:07 AM | TrackBack

I hate historiography. I

I hate historiography. I don't like to do it, I defer doing it as long as possible, I have to drive myself to get it done.

The revised historiography for chapter 4 is moving along.

Lunch was decadence - I just made a loaf of sourdough honey white. Half the loaf, with slime and honey, then slime and strawberry jam, was my lunch. YUM.

The second batch of Jersey strawberry jam is also a light bright jam, but it is a little more complex and more strawberry than the first batch. I doubt that I will make a third batch this weekend.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:45 AM | TrackBack

June 20, 2003

Slept 4:30 to 7:30.

Slept 4:30 to 7:30.

I was tired, but I did not want to go to bed. When I finally did go to bed, it only took about 15 minutes to fall asleep; if I had gone down earlier it would probably not have taken more than 25 minutes to go to sleep. Now I am tired and semi-functional.

So why do I stay up so late? Part of it is that I do dreadfully dislike going to bed and not sleeping. But I seem to be more likely to stay up late when I am unhappy or upset. Am I afraid that my mind will get into a negative feedback loop and replay my bad feelings as I am trying to sleep? That has happened once or twice and it was not fun. Or might it be that when I am feeling depressed and not-so-capable something in me wants to go self-indulgent and sabatoge my tomorrow, thus giving me an excuse for being not-so-capable? If that is the case then I will have trouble breaking that cycle. I don't want to think of myself as that mentally fragile.

Sam has a fever, he is home this morning. I slept in, walked baby and dawg, and fed breakfast to the menagerie. Baby was looking sleepy so he is taking a nap, I checked email and am off to shower.

Doctor wants us to observe him this morning and call back after lunch. If all is well, J and baby will go to the shore this weekend.

To do today:
return university library books
hit county library, return some pick up others
WRITE - I want to get a revised intro of chapter 4 to Joe so I can spend the weekend working on chapter 2.
The cleaners come at 2:30 this afternoon
If I go to the doctor, I will buy coffe as long as I will be near our roaster.

And so for my shower.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:01 AM | TrackBack

June 19, 2003

Class went pretty well.

Class went pretty well. It was strange - the guys did not show up but five of the six women did.

We finally got to talk about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, which reminds me that I want a copy of that conference volume on Jefferson and the Hemings. We spent the rest of the class going through the sectional crisis and giving the Mike Holt interpretation of party practices and sectional tensions. I prepped well, and quickly, and class went well as a result.

I had prepped a lecture, I wanted to cover a lot of material and explain it. It was FUNNY lecturing to a group of 5 people, and I did stop several times to do the q&d role-play thang. We covered almost everything I wanted to, even giving a long discussion to Sally Hemings. We started in 1842 with John Tyler, and got through Texas, the M-A war, the workings of the 2nd party system, the role of sectionalism in party politics, schisms in the national denominations, Mormons and mormonism,the compromise of 1850, and Winfield Scott and the Whig decision to appeal to Catholic voters in 1852. I was able to give a brief identification of the Know-Nothings right at the end. Tuesday I go from Know-Nothings to War before the break, and fight the civil war in the last hour.

Home, a big snack. Baby got sick today - he had to come home from daycare with a fever. He is due for more Tylenol at midnight, or when he cries, whichever comes first. J finished packing - she is due to go to the Shore this weekend and leave me home to write.

I drank a soda before teaching. I think I get sleepy on the drive out because it is in the middle of nap time.

I think I get hungry on the way home because I am listening to Tolkein and he writes about food quite a lot. I certainly can not be because normally have lunch at 1:30, granola bars while driving, and then come home at 9:00 at night if things go well.

Read some more in John Keegan's Five Armies in Normandy over dinner. It is a good light history read. I have been reading random chapters from David Weber's Oath of Swords and The War God's Own. I like Weber, I have put him onto my "get out from library, buy used" list.

I got my summer student loan today. I get to repay the household account for the cost of my new computer, and do a book order. I know I have been marking things in the JAH and JER as I read the reviews. Now I get to go back and decide which, if any, I want to own. I will not be buying fiction this run, other than a remaindered hardback copy of 1633 if Amazon still has it for less than the paperback.

J wants me to summon some books from the county library. And so to books!

Posted by Red Ted at 10:46 AM | TrackBack

RANT I am an


I am an email junkie. I check my email accounts regularly. I have been checking my account at the nearby university and wondering why I never see any new mail - I thought it was because it was summer.

Nope, it is because the webmail interface ALWAYS brings you back to the last set of messages you looked at. I had to click a barely visible "forward" button, no bigger than ">>" in 8 point type, in order to see my new mail.

I discovered just now that my textbook review was received properly, and that I do indeed have 9 overdue library books - so overdue that I can no longer renew them. I get to drive into the city to return them. That will be a fun use of my time, but not today.

If I knew who to send comments to, about the email interface, I would complain about the default page-opening setting.

And back to work

Posted by Red Ted at 09:59 AM | TrackBack

To bed around 11:30,

To bed around 11:30, fell asleep fairly easily. Woke at 5:45 to pee, 6:15 when the alarm went off, 6:45 after going back to bed, out of bed at 7:00. Call it a bit over 7 hours of sleep. It is a grey drizzling sort of a day, I could easily curl up with a book and read and sleep and read and sleep all the day long.

To do today:
prep class
prep a study sheet for the final
finish revising the intro to chapter 4
find the scribbled printout of chapter 2.

I have had that odd feeling all morning, where you were thinking of something, and wanted to remember it, but do not remember what it is that you wanted to remember - only that it was vaguely important. What is worse, I am not sure if this is a memory of a dream, or if it is something I was mulling over while tired last night.

The lawyer called yesterday. He has not seen the title review documents. I checked with J, and we have not seen them either. Supposedly the mortgage company and the realtor have seen them, and they are ok. I would like to see for myself. We told the lawyer we won't need him at closing, and he implied that that was when problems arose and lawyers were most useful, but he will send his bill. The lawyer and the closing might be the thought percolating in the back of my head.

Let me look over what I wrote last night and see if it is any good. I am once again doubting my ability to write good history.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:36 AM | TrackBack

June 18, 2003

Well, I had a

Well, I had a decent second wind. I decided that since I have committed myself to a Kuhnian paradigm I might as well foreground my theory. Normally I like to hide my theory, the way it structures the argument is visible and I put in some footnotes to it, but I do not normally refer to theory in my body text. For now, I am talking about Thomas Kuhn and paradigms and Anthony Wallace and mazeways and the republican historians and ideology.

My basic argument in this chapter is that people lost their mazeway when benevolent organizations implode in the 1830s. They struggled for new ways of making sense of the world until, by the mid 1840s, all the old patterns were falling apart. Then people combined Charles Hodge's notion of unity in the spirit with the old word "evangelical" and created a new way to make sense of the world.

The argument requires a crisis before the new paradigm can come. I start the crisis with the breakdown of benevolent organizations. I strengthen the crisis with the other changes. What I have to make clear, I now realize, in the first 30 pages, is that the collapse of benevolence is like the start of a snowball. It opens some mental space for new paradigms, the new paradigms then follow on their internal logic and their internal narratives until they create the full-blown crisis. So rather than a breakdown in 1835, ten years of mental chaos, and a new paradigm in 1845 it is a ball that starts rolling in 1835, rolls for 10 years getting bigger and bigger, and finally in 1845 it goes off the cliff. Hmm, I need to work on that metaphor.

Tired and rammie. I want to go to bed; I am afraid that I could not sleep. I have pretty much shut down - that paragraph of random thoughts above was my last good idea of the night. I need my sleep.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:03 AM | TrackBack

I checked the job

I checked the job listings before heading out. There were two that caught my eye and that I am, on paper, qualified for. They represent opposite ends of the academic world and I fear that neither would suit me.

A very Christian liberal arts college, affiliated with a missionary denomination, is hiring a historian to teach US history from colonial to the recent past, both as the 2-part survey and as a 4-part upper-level sequence. Their mission statement has two proof texts and talks about saving the city.

"Seek the peace and prosperity of the city where I have called you...because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29:7-8

"Should I not love that great city?"
Jonah 4:11

Nyack College/ATS NYC, an accredited branch campus of Nyack College, has been called by the love of God to provide a Christian college education in New York City. NCMC endeavors to educate students biblically to pursue God's truth found in the greatness of the city and the diversity of its people, and to prepare students to serve God by seeking the peace and prosperity of the city and by transforming the city into the image of His kingdom.

That is not where my religion has taken me. I am pious, I have been unable to shake the emotional ties of Roman Catholicism. And yet, at a RC service I feel this close to idolotry. They keep talking about Jesus, and I want to hear about God. Intellectually I am a monophysite, emotionally I am a monophysite, but I can't shake the ties of some of the rituals and some of the prayers. These folks are evangelical and Jesus-centered. They appear to be a denomination that emphasizes heart religion over creeds and doctrines, but my heart religion is not that of most evangelicals.

In my personal religious practice I attend Jewish services and follow the prayerbook. The praise and devotion in most Conservative Jewish tikkun's is closer to my idea of proper worship than is reciting creeds and praising a set of miracles. In one person's phrase, I am comfortable in the courtyard of the temple, following the service without joining the tribe. And, just as I edit out much of the Christ stuff when following a Catholic missal, I also edit out much of the tribal stuff when I read the Jewish prayerbooks.

I will think on it, right now I am leaning against applying. I think I can do better than a liberal arts college where I would be teaching 4 and 4, there are only 3 historians, and I would be the token iconoclast.

The other job opening is on the far end of the spectrum. Stanford is hiring a historian in my time period. That is one of the top jobs in the country: I would be teaching 2 and 2, there would be graduate students to run discussion sections and take up some of the grading load, and I would be expected to maintain a LOT of publishing. I write slowly, I rewrite again and again, I have trouble articulating my own ideas even though I am pretty darn good at critiquing and articulating other people's ideas for them. It would be a hard job for exactly the opposite reasons as the small teaching schools.

I will apply, I would be a fool not to, and I will add to their flood of incoming resumes. But I will not apply until after I have defended. That one closes in November so I will have plenty of time later on.

Speaking of which, writing this down has helped me figure out what I want to do about the Christian college job. It has not helped me edit up the beginning of chapter 4.

This time I really am going to write.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:26 AM | TrackBack

Job application is out.

Job application is out.

I applied by email. This might be a mistake, it might also indicate that I have the strong electronic communication skills they desire. I do not have the typewriter set up and I had no desire to print out their PDF form and fill in, by hand, the same information that is on my Vita.

I have noticed a couple of Community Colleges that use a special form for their applications. It makes sense for the adjunct positions - they get a lot of applications, they have a lot of people coming through their pipeline, and it is convenient to have standard forms where you can easily look up people's professional qualifications.

Oh bother! I just realized that I forgot to include the sentance about letters of recommendation available through my document service. That had been one of the forms on the standardized application that I did not fill in. If they are interested in me, they will ask. I have had a couple of colleges call back when they had questions about materials or when the document center (or I) had missed a mailing. Then again, these were real colleges.

What is done is done. Now to look at chapter 4's beginnings.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:01 AM | TrackBack

[Begin Whine] I am

[Begin Whine]

I am struggling with my prose again today. Part of it is that I am tired; up too late last night and only one little nap this afternoon while thinking on the couch. Part of it is that I have a lot of trouble writing complicated ideas in clear prose. This blog is easy, it is what I write between writing the real stuff. The think piece a few hours ago was helpful - after writing that I went and laid on the couch and finished revising my new introduction to chapter 4.

But my discussion of the historiography, and of controversies, and my attempt to set the stage for the categorization crisis, are all muddy and internally contradictory. And the worst part is, when I reviewed the chapter before sending it off I did NOT see any of these problems. It is not so bad to have problems in your writing if you can notice them and fix them, it just means more drafts. But if I can't see my own inconsistencies that means I should not be going into a writing profession.

Why yes, I am a little depressed about my abilities at the moment.

[/End Whine]
And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:56 AM | TrackBack

Slept 1:30 to 6:30,

Slept 1:30 to 6:30, call it 5 hours.

After blogging last night I could probably have gone to sleep. I was tired. But I did not want to get out of my chair. I ended up surfing around the web for almost 2 hours, doing nothing, getting nothing done, but somehow unable to muster the energy to get out of my chair.

I don't mind the occasional insomnia if I am not tired, or if I am doing something interesting. I don't know why I find myself doing nothing rather than going to bed. I have a strange mental block on going to sleep, I am afraid of missing something, or afraid of not being able to sleep; I avoid going to bed even when I know I need to, unless I am very sleepy indeed.

Cleaners had to reschedule for Friday.

Things to do today:
Get job application out to the nearby CC
Revise first 6 pages of chapter 4
Prepare a study sheet for the final exam, one student will need an early copy
Find my missing printout of chapter 2
Start figuring out what to do to improve chapter 2.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:50 AM | TrackBack

I find that it

I find that it helps me figure out what I think if I write a casual discussion of my points.

For the revised beginning of chapter 4, I wrote a new intro paragraph yesterday. I did some brainstorming today. Let me use this weblog as a first, rough pass of what it is I am trying to do with the introduction. Then I will move to wordperfect and write it for real.

The narrative of chapter 4 hinges on the notion that religious Americans experienced an identity crisis in the 1840s. They had discussed a common Christianity in the 1820s with Joseph Story, that was the point of chapter 2. They had tried to build organizations and thought patterns that actually used this common christianity, and the whole thing had collapsed under internal tensions among the members. That is the story of chapter 3. Chapter 4 then picks up with a gaping hole: there was a loose alliance of calvinists and, surrounding them, a penumbra of other trinitarian revival protestants.

The loose alliance of calvinists and revival trinitarians had a rough sense of who they were. And, each member of that group, if asked, could have listed other religious groups that they approved of, in the order in which they approved of them. Some people would have ranked by doctrines, others by practices, others by manners and social presentation, but all could have made a list. And, while the orders would have differed, the various lists would have shown a high level of overlap. Religious groups, like nation states, acquire legitimacy when their peer institutions offer it. Nations exchange diplomats; religious groups accept sacraments, exchange pulplits, or exchange delegates to governance meetings, invite one another to their revival meetings, or participate in interdenominational rituals and organizations. Both exist in a social environment where status is conferred by your peers (much like what Wyatt-Brown calls an honor society in his Southern Honor

I want to argue that, at the start of this identity crisis, they knew who they were but they did not know how to describe who they were. They had a de-facto mainstream but they did not have a shared ideology and definition of what that mainstream consisted of. They used to have a good working definition, some people tried to maintain the idea of common christianity and interdenominational institutions, but the scisms of the 1830s meant that simple commonalities no longer worked. Baptists printed their own Bibles, everyone exchanged their own tracts, even the Sunday School Union shifted from working directly with volunteer and local Sunday schools to providing materials for denominational classes.

Once I can establish that crisis, then I can go ahead and describe the various ways that people tried to resolve the crisis and the unexpected way that anti-catholicism ended up spreading an understanding of multiple churches that the Evangelical Alliance would use as the basis for a new collective religious identity.

But first, I need to 1, establish the crisis and 2, explain why I think that the concept evangelical came to matter a great deal in 1845 while most historians use it as a simple synonym for "protestant" until the 20th century.

That helped, now to switch over to wordperfect.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:02 AM | TrackBack

June 17, 2003

Class went well. We

Class went well.

We talked about political partisanship in the Jacksonian era, marches and songs and such. We talked about North and South and how the two sections differed. We watched Uncle Tom's Cabin, from where Augustine St. Clair says he intends to free Tom through where Simon Legree gives his talk about working slaves to death in 2 years and then buying more.

The students were hit hard by Tom, harder than I expected. I am perhaps a little cold towards evidence of racism in the historical past. Felicia Rashad and company did a good job of re-creating the powerful emotional appeals of a 19th-century Tom show, and if you did not know what was coming it could well be very effective and very very shocking.

None of them had read UTC before. If, feh, what is her name? 's critique of the texts used in American educational systems is accurate none of them would expect to encounter UTC in high school. UTC is the great 19th-century novel, it is a powerful piece of melodrama. It is not a comfortable novel for a 21st-century sensibility even though many of the plot decisions were made to make the novel more comfortable for a 19th-century audience.

Speaking of novels, I had some junk reading today. I read David Weber's Honor of the Queen to celebrate sending in chapter 3. It is a good, solid space opera. Weber set out to write Horatio Hornblower in space, and he did a good job with it. I noticed that between the first book and the second he cut back on some of the more ridiculous homages to the Napoleonic navy - the 13 year old midshipmen on the interstellar space ship was taking things a bit too far.

After teaching I read Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Gold. It was more homage to the Napoleonic era. This was the second Sharpe novel that Cornwell wrote, although it is about a third of the way through the chronology. Sharpe is a more interesting character here than he is in the books Cornwell wrote later - I can tell that Cornwell is still figuring out the man, his voice, and his style. By the later books Corwnwell is practically writing by numbers; Sharpe is set, Sharpe is painted in broader, simpler strokes, Sharpe has more interior monologues and yet fewer interesting choices.

I might be overstating that, but it is what my tired mind wants to say. I was sleepy on the drive to the military base - WHY does that drive make me dangerously tired? No nap today, but coffee in the morning and a soda while I graded in the CC library lounge. I think I can sleep now. I will take the hound out and try.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:43 AM | TrackBack

And chapter 3 goes

And chapter 3 goes off to my advisor and my second reader: 81 pages plus another 11 pages of endnotes, just under 31,000 words. It is a long chapter.

The middle is still a little weak but at least the earlier parts indicate why the middle is there and what it is doing. I got to the point where I could no longer make sense of what I was doing and if it was good or not, which means either put it away for 2 weeks or mail it off. This was already clean enough that I went ahead and mailed it.

Now to finish watching Uncle Tom's Cabin, prep class, get a job application out, and then start thinking about what to do with the mess that is chapter 2.

Fun fun fun !

Posted by Red Ted at 09:41 AM | TrackBack

Slept 10:30 to 6:00,

Slept 10:30 to 6:00, call it seven and a half hours of sleep. Was tired, went to bed, went right to sleep. Why can I not do that every night?

Finish getting chapter 3 out the door
get job application out the door
prep class
pick up and grade a midterm at the testing center

I would like to exercise, but doubt that I will have the time. I am eating less but exercising very little; my weight is going down but my waistline is going up. I don't like this. Left achilles tendon is sore again, I think the cheap sneakers wore out. Will order a new pair from roadrunner later today.

Baby was going to town on chunks of fresh peach today at breakfast. The little man likes his fruit - he loves peaches!

And so to work

Posted by Red Ted at 07:46 AM | TrackBack

Class is prepped, the

Class is prepped, the video section is chosen, I still need to cue it up and get dressed.

I am afraid that I am pushing the kids too hard, there has been VERY low turnout in class ever since the midterm. We are down to 13 on the official roll, and one of them dropped without doing the paperwork.

I forgot to grade the farking homework! Head in early and do it there.

Off I go !

Posted by Red Ted at 02:35 AM | TrackBack

Got the first comments

Got the first comments on chapter 4. This just in, I am better at spotting a change than I am at describing what has changed. My players and concepts are muddy and confusing. I need to get better at specifying the problem and then explaining why it mattered to people at the time.

I can not find my notes on chapter 2 and what changes that will require. It looks like I get to mess with the beginning of 4 for a little while until I can find my advisor's comments on 2. It was only a year ago, I SHOULD not have lost anything.

And so to second lunch and thence to teach.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:13 AM | TrackBack

June 16, 2003

Finished the edit pass.

Finished the edit pass. Now to type it up and wrestle again with the "sag" in the middle of chapter 3. But first, my shower. I feel sticky.

Am playing Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic's version of Beethoven's 9th. It is both a better interpretation than Ormandy's and not as much to my taste. I need to carry the CD over to the big stereo and crank the second movement to be sure, but that is how the preliminary indications are pointing.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:48 AM | TrackBack

Feh, it looks like

Feh, it looks like I will not be able to use my favorite metaphor: "The sculpture of benevolence was shaped on an armature of Calvinism." It just does not fit the flow of the chapter. Ah well.

Finished typing in changes, going over things for smoothness now. It won't get out tonight, but it will get out tomorrow morning.

I wonder what I am scheduled to do in class tomorrow afternoon?

ps, We decided the California strawberries were not worth making into jam and we threw them away. I wasted $6 on bad berries. And so I learn.

Very tired, taking the hound and going to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:21 AM | TrackBack

Changed my web counter

Changed my web counter to - lets see if it works.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:23 AM | TrackBack

Poor sleep. Was tired

Poor sleep. Was tired but not sleepy last night. Got to bed around 3:30, slept about 4:00 to 7:00; call it three hours.

To do today:
finish edit pass on chapter 3, start typing in changes
2 loads of laundry
cook chicken curry
make more jam - quickly before the California berries go more moldy than they are. Cheap berries from the discount club may well have been a false savings.
Get some junk out of the front hall
Call furnace people, set up an estimating visit for July 1

I am having coffee, I do not know if I will let myself have a nap.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:48 AM | TrackBack

Well, I know what

Well, I know what I will be eating for the rest of the week.

We bought a lot of chicken on Sunday. We barbecued some of it yesterday, some was to go into a curry today, and we were to save some boneless breasts to make a stir-fry on Wednesday. Well, the chicken smelled on the edge of being off when I went to cook. So, we now have a lot of curry. It is a pretty good curry, in my own non-traditional manner. (Onions, ginger, hot pepper, carrots, chicken, canned chicken broth, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, salt, chick peas). I will wait for J to get home, should be soon now, and then put away the leftovers.

I got my father's day present to myself - the Ball Blue Book of home canning. I read through it over dinner and already have some ideas.

Well, more typing in the edits. I should have finished today and here it is only page 34. I was tired and not as productive as I should have been; easily distractable and slow moving is a terrible thing to be.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:30 AM | TrackBack has a lot has a lot of rants and as much specious logic as many of the comparably polemical Republican sites. It also has some interesting pieces, like this one by Rhoades Alderson. Alderson argues that Democrats do not suffer from a lack of values, they just are trying to figure out how to articulate their common values.

He does list four points where Democrats differ from Republicans. What he does not address is "availability" - are these issues that will win enough state elections to deliver a national majority?

Ted K., being political and NOT wanting to go back to editing and footnotes.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:37 AM | TrackBack

Sometimes I just get

Sometimes I just get mad. I took a study break and stumbled across this story on the online New York times. Before I could go back to work I had to write this:

Tom DeLay
242 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515-4322

June 16, 2003

Dear Representative DeLay,

I have been reading about what the House leadership has been doing with the unearned income tax credit and the Senate conference committee. You, sir, should be ashamed of yourself. You are systematically giving up common decency and compassion for your fellow citizens. A politician is, in the end, a steward of the nation. We elect you and your peers because we trust you to provide services for us all and make decisions that are in the good of the people. The people is ALL of the people, not just campaign contributors and not just your ideological fellow travelers. I understand that you are a professing Christian. I must ask you, when you one day stand at that great Judgement seat, how will you respond when you are asked what you have done for "the least of my brothers?" What will you say?

I have not yet decided if I will put a stamp on it and mail it. Never send anything while you are angry.

And back to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:23 AM | TrackBack

Footnotes are most incredibly

Footnotes are most incredibly tedious -- Especially when the first time you wrote them you used one form and then you have to rewrite all 110 notes into proper dissertation format.

I just wanted to share that.

Oh, Karajan did not do well on the big stereo. To my ear the overall sound was flat, as in it lacked depth and vibrancy. In addition the horns sounded flat, as in they pitched some of their notes in an unexpectedly low manner. So I dug out Maddy Prior and June Tabor and cranked up Cakes and Ale and the Agincourt Carol. When we got the various bits of the stereo we optimized for acapella sopranos. Sure enough, it sounded like I had two beautiful voices standing 10 feet from me ... although something in either the recording or the right speaker squawked on the high note on the first "deo gratias" in the final chorus. It is a very high note.

And back to work

Posted by Red Ted at 01:11 AM | TrackBack

June 15, 2003

Did some more editing.

Did some more editing. I am still having trouble with the flow and foreshadowing in the central section of the chapter. I made some changes, made some notes for more changes, but I do not know if it will be enough.

The prose is better here than it was earlier on, but the structure and transitions are weaker. Will work a little longer and then go to bed - I had a couple of naps today and am well into my second wind.

And back to work

Posted by Red Ted at 11:53 AM | TrackBack

Solved the sticking point.

Solved the sticking point. It was a problem that the kids face in their papers - something made no sense at the current length. That means you need to either expand it or cut it back. Cutting it back, in this case, would have meant cutting it out. Instead I expanded it, was ready to go to 3 sentences but managed to fit it into two clauses. They will get another re-write when I type in this edit pass, but it is less confusing.

The sag in the middle is still a little saggish. I tried to hold it up by spackling a discussion of Providence over the transitions. At least at the early part, this did not work so well. I might want to put a little road map or miniature table of contents in at the start of the sag. The current edit pass is too micro for that, although I am double-checking my section heads.

Got through about 8 pages, while watching the baby and having a nap. Now for a bite of lunch and then an afternoon of shopping with the baby. Should be fun.

And so to lunch.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:47 AM | TrackBack

I made more jam

I made more jam !

The baby and I went shopping at the farm stand and at the discount club. We got 3 quarts of Jersey strawberries at the farm stand, and a thing of California strawberries at the discount club. Tonight it was the Jersey berries.

J hulled and edited the berries while I watched the baby. I then sterilized my jars and started chopping berries. This was the recipe off the sure-gel pectin package, same as last time I made strawberry jam. "Learning by doing", also known as "practice makes perfect" does indeed work for jam. I was much faster, much smoother, and the jam is MUCH better.

Differences between this jam and the last jam.

  1. The berries were riper and tastier
  2. I did not add any lemon juice
  3. I did add a little oil to keep the frothing down
  4. I measured my berries and sugar more carefully, leveling the sugar and using the 2-cup measure not the 4-cup measure for the berries.
  5. Because it did not froth, I did not overboil the jam and sugar

We made 5 pints of jam from 2 quarts of strawberries - we are still getting more jam than the recipe expects. I tasted the stuff left in the bowl - it was absolutely spectacular. I am very happy with my jam.

Tomorrow I will jam up the California berries. They are a little woody and not as tasty as the local berries. I intend to hull them, chop them, and then smell/taste them. I may very well add something to the California jam to cover the mediocre berries. The leading contender is the seeds from a vanilla pod, which is what Jamie Oliver uses on his Food TV recipe, or a bit of nutmeg, which is what goes in a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

And so to go put things away. I want to do some more editing before I go to sleep.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:09 AM | TrackBack

In bed 10:15 to

In bed 10:15 to 6:15, slept about 12:30 to 6:10. Could not get to sleep, was a little hot. Lost the pajama leggings and that helped a little. I still woke up before the 6:15 alarm. I forgot to turn that off last night, and it woke the baby. So, now everyone is awake.

I had strange dreams. The dream before waking was an anxiety dream involving going out to lunch. I was having lunch at one fancy restaurant with my mom, and at another fancy restaurant with Joe, Tim, and either Chuck or Bob from my high school gaming group. Somehow I was hopping from one to the other, ordering over-priced but tasty food at both, and having to cover two $50 to $75 lunch tabs. There was another side-thing involving shoes, a table photographer, and Joe's sister Anne. What I remember of it involves anxiety about having the right shoes, leaving the right shoes. There was also a sub section where I was talking about doing part-time work while waiting for my security clearance to come through.

What does it mean? I am nervous about the job search, I am worried that I spend too much time and energy on not-dissertation. That is my bet. I do have some complicated dreams, and this was the first time in a while that I dreamed taste. The little triangles of salmon, flavored and broiled, were a taste I actually remember on waking. I might even be able to make a recipe for them.

And so to have a day. After baby has his first breakfast I will take him and the hound for a walk, then I will get bagels. J has work to do at home today, and I want to finish the editing pass today so I can get the chapter out tomorrow. Next weekend J is going to the shore and leaving me here, I want to be able to use that gift of time to revise chapter two.

I will work on that sticking point I blogged yesterday until baby is ready for his nap.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:38 AM | TrackBack

June 14, 2003

Random thought, typed in

Random thought, typed in while I wait for a library search to finish. (I am pulling Jerry Falwell's autobiography to get a page number for a footnote.)

I am listening to Beethoven's 9th on the turntable, in the Ormandy-Philadelphia Orchestra-Mormon Tabernacle Choir version. I am used to Ormandy's interpretations of Beethoven, it is what sounds normal to me while Karajan and the Berlin orchestra, or Bernstein, or the other famous recordings all sound off-tempo and imbalanced.

While playing it, I cranked up the second movement, which is my favorite part of the whole piece. The first 5 minutes of that are just, well, sublime. I turned up the volume all the way to 5 (which is LOUD). I closed my eyes, I listened to the strings and the horns tossing the melody back and forth, and the BOOM of the timpanis, and it was so wonderful and strong that I cried a little.

The third movement, which is playing at the moment, is boring. The fourth movement, the choral, is both very good and over-rated. It is good, but the start of the second movement is, IMO, the best music Ludwig ever wrote.

And back to work. I love punctuation. (spent 5 minutes deciding if I wanted a colon, semi-colon, or comma in a sentance)

Posted by Red Ted at 11:36 AM | TrackBack

Random thought that came

Random thought that came up as I was getting up to go work. I like Eric Flint's novels in part because he was trained as an academic historian. Both Mother of Demons and his 1632 and 1633 take history seriously. That is to say that he expects change over time - no static societies like so many other sci-fi authors create. And he sees path-dependency. In fact, the core dilemna of Mother of Demons and 1633 involves path dependency - lead characters are terrified of the precedents they are creating and the societies that might follow on their actions. In the case of Mother of Demons she is paralyzed by the possible consequences of sharing her knowledge. And Flint understands contingency, something that many science-fiction and fantasy authors also understand even if only in the context of the hero doing a heroic deed with lasting consequences.

Those are all things that I am interested in and that I try to get across to my students. I don't think I would assign one of his books to a lower level history class, but I might very well assign one to an upper-level or graduate class on writing history. Flint understands time, and that is something that is hard for people to grasp.

Why yes, I do spend a lot of my mental energy analyzing the world around me and trying to figure out why I like the things that I like.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

Shutting down for the

Shutting down for the night. I decided I was not being productive when I realized that I did not have a good collective noun for "BLANK, including New England Congregationalists and broad Churchmen from the middle states, did not understand why people persisted in maintaining denominational boundaries."

For BLANK I need a collective noun that indicates the members of mainstream churches; retaining the parochial assumptions of state churches, i.e. that everyone belonged and the religious organization was responsible for the moral well being (note moral, not religious or physical) of everyone in their geographic area; believing in benevolent organizations; and focusing on Christian union or at least on the shared aspects of the "Christianity in General" that they all believed in but could never define.

I tried "The Spokesmen for Christian union", and "Spokesmen for benevolence" and various combinations of those, but it is not quite right. I am talking this out on the blog in the hope that, even if I don't come up with the right phrase now, hashing it out in type will help me come up with the right phrase later.

This is the sort of a writing problem that I keep running into, finding just the right phrase to make my desired point. It is part of why I take so very darn long to write - I spent 20 minutes or more wrestling with the construction problem and I have taken under 5 minutes to dash out this blog entry.

I need to get this just right because I am moving from a discussion of the several modes of Christian union (Baptist, amalgamating, reconstructionist) to a discussion of Tocqueville and unity in diversity. It will finish with a look at Winthrop Hudson's argument about 19th-century Americans revising the arguments made by 16th century Protestants. I need to indicate that this is many people, that they are at the center of the benevolent movement, and that they are influential but are not as normative as they think they are.

I feel tired and stupid. I am going to go read some easy fiction and try this writing problem again in the morning.

And so to read.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:46 AM | TrackBack

In bed a little

In bed a little after 10:00, slept about 10:30 to 7:30, or 9 hours. I still wanted more, but this helps me cut down on that sleep debt.

I woke in the middle of a very strange dream. I remember that it was set near my undergraduate college, but there were woods and rolling hills, and some of my high school teachers there. The last part, before I woke, J and I were in a red sports car with right hand drive. The baby was in the back seat. J was driving along a rolling green path through the woods - like the clearcut under a power line. She had at one point rolled the car onto two side wheels - like a boat heeling into the wind - and I was trying to convince her to flatten it out. Meanwhile I was hiked out over the car door. It was a very strange dream.

Breakfast and played with the baby. J made thin coffee. I threw out the rest of the pot and made some bitter strong coffee. The older the beans get, the harder it is to make good coffee. Mine is too strong for her, hers is too weak for me, and it gets more and more stale and more and more bitter as we go along.

Note, I got very dizzy after getting out of bed, a little dizzy after getting up from the floor. In both cases it was the physical dizzy that comes from standing up too quickly, and in both cases I had swung my legs and gone directly from prone to vertical. Keep an eye on this, back when I was fighting that cold I was also getting dizzy when I stood up quickly.

I have cued up the vinyl lp with Ormandy's version of Beethoven's 9th on the turntable. I will be working on the kitchen table while I listen to it. I have been on a major music kick the last few days, ever since I started copying CDs to the computer hard drive. Last night I was playing albums - I had the urge to hear Maddy Prior and June Tabor sing the Agincourt Carol - and here I am doing it again this morning. We have a LOT of old albums.

To do today: Continue the edit pass on chapter 3. Do both a micro-edit, making sure that the sentences and paragraphs say what they ought to say, and a macro-edit, making sure that the argument is clear and can be followed. Also marking footnotes that will need to be extended or completed.

This afternoon J's office has its picnic. There is a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. It is good to know that the weather will maintain its streak of rainy days. Never bet against a streak.

We lined up the floor guy for the first full week in July. That gives us the 4th of July weekend to pull carpets and repaint the baby's bedroom. I am terrified that the house will become a time sink, and yet I want it to be a nice place to live in.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:45 AM | TrackBack

Addendum. Jim Jeffords recently

Addendum. Jim Jeffords recently gave a speech at the National Press club where he made many of the same points that I make to my classes when I talk about Bush 43. Bush, like Clinton before him, is a good short-term maneuverer who will say whatever he needs to say to get people to agree with his policy of the moment. There is no consistency, or rather his momentary promises have no relationship to his long term goals.

No more distractions ! Turning off the web browser now.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:37 AM | TrackBack

We are back from

We are back from J's office picnic. It was fun, baby had a good time, and everyone is tired.

I think it is the sun-sugar-barbecue tired. J was wondering how much of my time I spend tired - I think my dizzies have her worried.

Among other things, we went to the little lake at the JCC campground where the party was held, and we messed around in boats. Baby went in a life jacket, and J and I and one of her co-workers and his honey all took a paddle boat out. The paddles were hard to work so we went back and got a canoe. These were short and tippy canoes, and J decided she was not comfortable being out in one with the baby. I went out again on my own and after about 5 minutes I had a better feel for how to drive them. I could not get my J-stroke to work properly. The canoe was beamy, I was near the middle, there was no rudder, and I am sadly out of practice at driving a canoe. I do like them though.

Had lunch and dinner at the barbecue, baby is having his second dinner now. I do not know what we are doing tonight - I am going to try to stay awake long enough to edit a few more pages.

I mentioned this on the Sunsword forums, that might be part of why I am getting more hits. Use the feedback and say Hi !

And so to proof-reading.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:32 AM | TrackBack

June 13, 2003

I am working on

I am working on job applications. Finished one to a community college, now I do one for a 1-year job. My basic job letter is pretty impressive. I surprised myself with it. Now to go fine-tune it yet again.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

Stanley Fish has an

Stanley Fish has an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the way that people confuse First Amendment rights with the irresponsible decision to publish distasteful views in a private forum. He argues that you have no right to be heard in any particular forum, you simply have the right to NOT have your speech restricted by government or law.

I like his stuff, even when I disagree with him. In this case I think he neglects the difference between publications that are intended as open forums and publications that are serving a specific community or purpose. He would argue that many of the publications whose editors claim to be open forums are actually serving specific communites and purposes and that the editors have lost track of what it is they are supposed to be doing.

Ted K.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:41 AM | TrackBack

Spent the afternoon doing

Spent the afternoon doing housework, running to the library and the bank, and starting on the final edit pass on chapter 3. Parts of the chapter are very smooth, parts make my head hurt. And this is after making, what, a dozen, two dozen, edit passes over this material over the last 6 years. I am a slow writer not just because I am distractable and not just because I have trouble formulating my ideas, but also because my prose often sucks. I have trouble seeing problems in my own prose, practice should improve it a little.

I checked out the video of Uncle Tom's Cabin from the library. Started watching it to see if there was a 5-minute section I could use as an in-class document to spark discussion. It is true to the Tom plays of the nineteenth century - that is to say that it hits the famous highlights of the story, is over acted and emotional, and it approaches the stylized presentation and dialogue of a kabuki play. I had to turn it off about the time that Topsy showed up.

Also checked out a new novel, well new to me - Niven and Pournelle and Barnes Legacy of Heorot. I have resisted spending money on it several times in the past few years, library checkout is the right price. Also got John Keegan's Six Armies in Normandy. Went to the hold desk and ordered the next two Cornwell Sharpe novels, will not pick those up until this chapter is out the door. I also held the first volume of Anais Nin's diaries and a set of her essays. I am enjoying this blogging thing, I am enjoying reading Pepys diary each day, my current light non-fiction is Franklin's letters. I think I should read Nin and see another approach to diary writing, introspection, and editing.

I still have not finished Franklin, and I bogged down in the first volume of Robert Caro's biography sequence on Lyndon Johnson. Caro's Johnson is just not all that attractive of a person; I have absolutely no compelling reason to continue to read about the slimeball. I will keep renewing it, and plugging away in it, but I doubt that I will finish all three current volumes of the biography in my spare time over the summer.

And so to bed, very tired. J sez I get to take the hound out for a pee first.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:44 AM | TrackBack

Slept 3:00 to about

Slept 3:00 to about 7:30. Slept in and did not want to move, asked J to take the baby this morning because I was unsure of my ability to drive.

Last night after the last blogging I read Eric Flint's Mother of Demons as an e book. Was still not sleepy so surfed around for a while, then got the laundry out of the dryer and went to bed. I probably could have gone to sleep at 10:30, but stayed for the laundry and got a second wind. I HAVE to be productive today.

more laundry
cook dinner
job applications
library returns
review chapter 3, am tired so might do footnotes before argument.

My subscription to Earth and Beyond lapsed yesterday. I have not played in a week, I will wait until I really want a game before I renew that. I might renew something else to be a background game and web-browsing replacement.

And so to walk the dawg.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:17 AM | TrackBack

June 12, 2003

Took baby to see

Took baby to see J and her choir sing. Was fun, although baby and I spent a lot of the time out in the lobby. Baby is remarkably cute, he was a big hit as usual.

The room is acoustically dead, J sez. This would explain why most of the choirs sounded a little flat and a little muddy from in back where baby and I were hanging out.

Home, got distracted reading elf only inn - another fun webcomic. Stayed up too late.

Now to bed

Posted by Red Ted at 12:06 PM | TrackBack

A so-so day. Was

A so-so day.

Was tired most of the day. Had a half-pot of coffee (20 oz, brewed half-caff) prepared as cafe au lait. This current crop of French Roast does that nicely, and now that the coffee is a little stale the milk helps cover up the stale taste.

Graded papers, planned class, did not get around to working on job applications.

While grading I was copying our cd collection to my hard drive. I got about 40 cds copied as a background task. I made a long post on the Sunword forums about the differences between digital music on the hard drive and cd music on the stereo. The gist of it was that it is convenient to have music available at 3 clicks of a mouse, but for serious listening the stereo sounds better, as it should since it cost about as much and is a dedicated device with MUCH bigger speakers.

I also put in my musings about the differences between digital music and digital books. Basically, several small publishers like Baen and National Book Press have been putting full copies of books online as free electronic downloads. What they have found is that having the full text of part of their catalog online has markedly increased sales of their full catalog, including the items that are on line. People are reading books or excerpts online and then recommending or buying to read for real, or buying the backlist of those authors. It is a low-cost way for the press to share its work and keep the in-print backlist in the public eye.

Eric Flint argues in his column on the Baen books web page that this is because a printed book offers a meaningful added value over an electronic edition. You read more easily, retain more information, and conceptually a book is a brick you hold in your hand and view all at once while a document is a string that extends above or below you and you view in small chunks.

John Dvorack, in this weeks column in PC Magazine argues that the music industry has already lost the battle over electronic file sharing of CD music and that their only bet is to copy the movie people and create high cost, large size, DVDs with extensive added values. Just as CDs were not shared over dialup lines or stored on old hard drives, Dvorack thinks that DVDs will not be shared over the current broadband internet or saved on current hard drives. He is assuming that the internet will not have any dramatic increases in bandwidth in the next 10 years, I do not know how good of an assumption that is.

I was wondering what added values a hardcopy CD actually offers. Janis Ian argues that it is more convenient to buy the CD than it is to download it from Napster/Kazaa, and she has a point. She also points out that the first thing she does with a new cd is drop it in the computer and make 2 copies, one for her honey and one for the car. It used to take 45 minutes to tape an album, it takes what, 3 minutes, to duplicate an audio CD.

For me, the hardcopy CD has liner notes, unless it is a cheap re-issue without any liner notes. It has the music in a single discrete quantity - I tend to play whole cds rather than burn a cd with the mix I think I want to play. Folks who use multi-disk players and a shuffle program would see less benefit to having a discrete group of tunes. A hardcopy CD was easier to copy, it is only now that I have a new computer that I have enough disk space to bother copying music to the hard drive.

Back to the diary.

Taught tonight. I was tired, almost fell asleep in the car while driving over. Stopped at the library and finally (I hope) got the readings put on reserve. It never happened last week. Checked out Tolkein's The Hobbit as a book on tape for my commute. I appear to be on a Tolkein binge at the moment.

I left my lecture notes on the printer, so I had to wing it. I spent too long on transportation revolution, commercial revolution, made it through Jackson but did not get into Jacksonian politics. Had a soda while teaching so I could drive home safely.

Home, J wanted a snuggle. Had some sandwiches then went and snuggled. There is laundry in the dryer so I am blogging this and copying a couple more CDs.

Finished a James Jones novel earlier today, A Touch of Danger, and I am now out of fiction to read on the can. That means I go back to the local library tomorrow. Even a good writer like Jones fall prey to the conventions of his genre. The cute young lady who charms the old cynical hero and is getting ready to re-start her life - as expected - was murdered by the villain 2/3 of the way through the novel. What I want to read next is to re-read Robert Frezza's novels. They are in a box at the back of the storage area, I will not see them for a while yet.

And so to check the laundry

Posted by Red Ted at 11:13 AM | TrackBack

Slept 12:30 to 7:00.

Slept 12:30 to 7:00. I really wanted more sleep - stayed in bed from the 6:15 alarm and the 6:30 baby-waking all the way till 7:00, and even then moved slowly and had racoon eyes.

Today I grade, I work on job applications, and I prep classes and readings. I want to hit the local library to return things and the CC library to get a new book on tape.

I am copying a few cds to my music folder on the PC. So far, after listening to a couple, it is very clear that the real stereo has much better sound quality. It should. I think I might like the convenience of having a mediocre boombox with a large library of music already loaded. For example, I have had Boiled in Lead's version of "As I Roved Out" running through my head for a while, now it is a few clicks away.

I am putting a new sound card and perhaps new speakers on my wish list. It will be a while, though, before I set up the computer by the stereo and start digitizing our vinyl collection.

And so to work (soundtrack at the moment, Bill Morrisey Inside

Posted by Red Ted at 08:43 AM | TrackBack

June 11, 2003

Slept 12:40 to 6:30,

Slept 12:40 to 6:30, about 6 hours. I do have trouble sleeping after I teach. Perhaps I could have gone to sleep earlier though.

Dropped baby off at day-care, had breakfast, now to work.

Things to do today:
grade homework
start job applications
pick up baby at 4:30
a little housework

Posted by Red Ted at 08:17 AM | TrackBack

YAY, finished this edit

YAY, finished this edit pass and printing out Chapter 3. From here it looks like I have a day or so of work on the footnotes and to make sure things flow, then I can kick it to my advisor and my second reader.

After I finished thickening Johnson there was not much else to do other than add footnotes. The last 20 pages were most remarkably clean.

I emailed my second reader to warn him that a chapter is coming next week.

Off for a bowl of ice cream.

Posted by Red Ted at 03:46 AM | TrackBack

A so so day.

A so so day. Bad sleep is killing me.

Had a nap for about an hour this morning, that gave me enough energy to be unproductive. I should be working with Richard Mentor Johnson and the Sabbath mails controversy of 1828-30. All I have done so far is some biographical work on Johnson, my advisor somehow convinced himself that Johnson was Postmaster General. He was not.

Spent some time doing background work on John Newland Maffit. I do sort of want to do my next project on Maffit. But, that was not the best use of my time. I need to dig into the files and find the Post Office Papers, which are on old photocopy paper and smell bad.

Had some tea after lunch, that should help a little. The really annoying thing is that I am sure I would get my second wind around late afternoon, exactly when I am due to go fetch the baby.

I have had a lot of hits today. Either I have readers, or J is surfing my web page, or I should not have mentioned the word n a k e d on a earlier post.

And back to work

Posted by Red Ted at 02:41 AM | TrackBack

June 10, 2003

Not my best day.

Not my best day. I was tired from yesterday. Did some work on chapter 3, mostly thinking about Ely and Johnson. I made it up to Sunday Mails then stopped.

Prepped class, did not make the time to finish grading - in part because I forgot that I had left it undone. I need to grade tomorrow.

We heard from the seller. He wants to move the closing up from July 31 to June 30. Our offer letter said we were willing to go earlier, and we are. J is lining up the mortgage people, I am talking to the contracters. So far it looks like June 30 will be no trouble to do.

We have not yet decided if we will continue to keep this apartment through August and give me a separate working space for as long as possible, or if we will try to get out. Right now I am leaning towards the extra month - we would move my desk to the new house July 1, move in early August, and I would move my desk back to the apartment until the lease expires at the end of August. But, that only makes sense if I am in a writing frenzy and finishing up. I can be, but only if I concentrate more.

Class went OK. It was too much lecture and I tired them out. A lot of the weaker students have not shown up in 2 classes - am I being to hard? going to fast?

I almost caught up, am only about 40 minutes behind schedule. Thursday is Andrew Jackson and the 2nd party system. That is always a good one.

Home, changed to pajamas, had a sandwich, now I am hoping that I really am sleepy.

And so to bed

Posted by Red Ted at 11:32 AM | TrackBack

Up too late last

Up too late last night. In bed 4:15 to 7:30, slept about 4:30 to 7:15, call it 3 hours.

Yesterday I got a lot of work done early, a little work done in the middle, and a surprising amount of work during my second wind. It was a writing day; I have been revising the sag in the middle of chapter 3. I spent the morning thinking about the sag, coming up with a new approach, and patching the early sections.

Later on I got into the relationships between Christian Union and Civil Religion, tying them together with the notion that while folks shared a belief in Providence they differed on how to implement it. I am distinguishing between high and broad again, this time with Providence and the national covenant.

I made it to the gym, finally. It has been over a month since my last real workout, although I had one crappy workout in between. I am soft, weak and out of shape. I also lost 3 pounds, probably because I cut back on my food and lost some muscle mass. Gym weight 175.0, after shower was 172 even (weight without clothes.)

Was a little workout, I got out of the house late but made myself go exercise rather than slacking off AGAIN and just making dinner.

  • warmup: 4:00 exercycle, stretch, front squats bar *10
  • squats: bar * 10, 135*3, 185*8,8. Power stance. Did not push, sloppy form - concentration?
  • front squats: 135*5,5. Again, did not push especially because knees were adjusting to the motion. Went deep, narrow stance, feet forward. Touched hams to calves. Watch the form - hips were a little uneven. Did not push.
  • exercycle. Vertical cycle, 20:00 at resistance 11, 55 rpm, 207 "calories"

Home, dinner was leftover chicken fingers on hot dog buns. J made a GOOD spice rub the other day. I was not home till a little after 8:00 - the dry cleaner closed while I was at the gym. J washed the baby while I ate.

I then wrote for a while and then got a second wind. I almost went to bed with J at 11:00, but decided to look at Ezra Stiles Ely one more time.

I got a mess done, and every time I thought I was at a stopping point and could go to bed I was either not sleepy or thought of something more. I also read a chunk of an online novel between writing passes, that kept me awake while I came up with more things to say about E.S. Ely.

Slept in this morning, breakfast (wheaties with fresh strawberries, english muffin with my strawberry jam) and so to work. Taking Niacin in the morning again - I need to call Dr. L and see if I am messing up the effectiveness of the medicine by taking it in the morning and not at bedtime. This time I am giving 30 minutes for the aspirin to kick in before taking the niacin pill.

We are low enough on strawberries that I might get another half-flat and make more jam.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:03 AM | TrackBack

June 09, 2003

To bed around 11:00.

To bed around 11:00. Slept 11:30 to 6:30, wanted to stay in bed. About 7 hours of sleep.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a day of errands and baby and rest. I did not write, I did not try to write, I did not read, I did not do work. It has been a long time since I took a day completely off. I did snuggle with J, run errands, go grocery shopping, and make more jam.

Last night's jam was strawberry: 2 quarts berries --> 5 cups mashed berries, 1 packet pectin, 7 cups sugar, the grated zest of about half a lemon. I heated it too hard after adding the sugar and it boiled over. It was slow to set, but seems to have set OK in all jars but one. The refrigerator jam set nicely - I got about 2 cups more jam than the recipe called for. I suspect that my 5 cups of mashed berries were closer to 5 1/2 cups of mashed berries - those were very large quarts. J helped by hulling the berries - she will help with jam when she thinks she will like the results.

This morning, I had some more of the refrigerator jam. It is a very good "light fresh" strawberry. It is not the complex front of the mouth flavor of the best Breedens berries, but it is tasty. Last night, when the jam was frothy on top and appeared not to be setting, I resolved to buy a flat of fresh California berries today and make more jam. I feel less driven towards doing that today, although lets see how I feel when I go out to deal with dry cleaning.

Things to do today:
Prep class for Tuesday
Dry cleaning
Exercise - I mean it this time.
buy berries and make more strawberry jam (maybe)

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:21 AM | TrackBack

June 07, 2003

Diary entry, June 7,

Diary entry,
June 7, 2003, 9:07 am.

Slept 11:40 to 6:30 or so, call it 7 hours. I read a Cornwell novel last night after coming home, I have found the formula in them but they are still entertaining and compelling mind candy. J gave me quite the evil tone of voice as she went to bed around 10:30, it looked like I was going to follow a night of no sleep with a night of staying up reading. Almost went to bed after chapter 8, but went ahead and finished it.

I had been feeling the lack of fiction; I do not know if it was a cause or a symptom of my lack of ability to concentrate the second half of this week, I do hope that I will be able to get a lot more done over the weekend and at the start of next week.

Yesterday was pretty much a lost day. I decided on no naps and no caffeine in order to get my system back on track, and that meant that I was slow, distractable, and largely incompetent for most of the day. I spent yesterday morning grading, and took hours to do 40 minutes of work. I got distracted at lunchtime and read blogs instead of going to feed myself. Finally in the afternoon I got out of the house, hit the library and the barber, and got the baby.

Last night we went out for dinner. Neither of us wanted to cook, neither of us wanted to eat what we had. We went to the local seafood joint. I broke my diet. Had a bowl of crab bisque (tasty, tomato-cream sauce), and a broiled swordfish that had been browned with a pat of butter. There were double-fried potato wedges on the side - much fat content for Ted. J had grouper, it was mediocre. Baby was a big hit. Afterwards we went shopping for baby clothes, a fun Friday night on the town yep.

This morning woke up, took the hound, had a bite of breakfast. I am trying something new. Instead of taking my niacin at bedtime I waited and took it as I brushed my teeth this morning. I figured that instead of having the pills keep me awake all night, why not have them keep me awake in the day and then I might sleep well at night. So far, taking it on an empty stomach, I have had a little bit of flushing. Most of that went away after I ate breakfast. If I am going to take morning pills I will need to get one of those 7-day pillboxes and take pills AFTER I eat.

Showered - I still had prickly hair on my shoulders, and then to work. Still wrestling with civil religion. I fear I see Tevye in this section, I will need to pick one thing and say it clearly. Blogger is down, wrote this on Wordperfect for later insertion.


Had an ok day. Got through one sticking point, started work on clarifying my discussion of Christian union. Partway through the afternoon stopped being productive, moved to housework.
Fixed the broken drawer
repotted basil
made blueberry jam (after dinner)
called the seller, he might want to move closing up. We said we could do that.
talked with one of the ac guys, he will come by after we take posession and see if the ducts will handle return air volumes. Ground floor should, second floor probably won't. Is it worth putting in central air that will barely cool the upstairs?
J did a mess of house cleaning, boxing things, vacuuming floor.
J cooked dinner, we had a tasty chile.
Now to read a little and then to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:29 AM | TrackBack

June 06, 2003

Sleepy already. I did

Sleepy already. I did not sleep well last night.

After blogging I thought about a snack but was not hungry, or so I thought. Spent a few minutes, ok, an hour, doing a vanity search because I was curious. It turns out I found a dozen links to a FAQ I wrote 5 years ago and have not touched since, and I found half a dozen links to the conference paper I gave 3 years ago. I need to publish more.

finally decided that I needed a snack if I was to sleep, had 2 bowls of not-cheerios, then read Sports Consecrated until sleepy. To bed at 2:20, was finally falling asleep at 2:40 when the baby woke. He had been sleeping sideways and then got himself tangled in the bed bumper and his larger bear. I straightened him, he was cranking, so I changed the diaper and walked him for a little while, then put him back in bed and rocked the crib. I then to bed, and J took over crib-rocking as baby grumped his way to sleep. I probably fell asleep a little after 3:00, woke at 7:05 after J let me sleep in.

Just dropped of baby at daycare, I have broken my fast, now to start my day.

Busy day, errands and writings. TTD:

Call seller, arrange for contracter visit on Monday
Call handyman, reserve some of his time in early August.
Re-pot seedlings
go to the gym, exercycle and maybe some light lifting.
grade homework and one paper
decide what grade to give the oral exam
get through the conceptual block on page 18 and get back to editing. I have NOT gotten enough done this week.

But, I am once again allowed coffee. I will make a half-pot when I want one.

And so to my day

Posted by Red Ted at 09:07 AM | TrackBack

June 05, 2003

Writing this down so

Writing this down so I remember it.

I asked bad questions on the midterm.

I asked: "Ever since the first settlers arrived in the new world, all the American colonies ever wanted was freedom and independence" Agree or disagree with this statement. Explain what the colonists wanted.

I should have asked: "Ever since the first settlers arrived in the new world, all the American colonies ever wanted was freedom and independence" Explain why this statement is wrong. What did the first settlers want and how did they come to the point of declaring independence.

I asked: Compare and Contrast Bacon's Rebellion and Shays's Rebellion. Were the two movements fundamentally similar or fundamentally different?

I should have added: Be sure to discuss the causes, conduct, and consequences of each rebellion.

For some reason when I write a question I have trouble proof-reading it and I have trouble reading it as a student would. I only really know what I should have asked until I go to explain the question to the class or, sometimes, until I start grading the question. Practice Practice Practice, and perhaps work harder at writing them early and having J proof-read them for clarity.

And so to lunch.
oh, had a cup of coffee late morning. So far no reflux. YAY. I missed coffee, even though our coffee has gone stale from not being used.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

Was a little late

Was a little late out the door.

Stopped at the CC to sign papers for classes next fall, had forgotton to mail back their form and then misplaced it. It turns out they had another opening for me. I will be teaching US part 2 on Mondays and Fridays at 8:30 in the morning, US part 1 on Monday afternoon at one site and on Wednesday afternoon at another location. Tuesdays and Thursdays are clear.

I also decided to apply for a 1-year position at a place about 150 minutes away (132 miles). If I get it I will just make sure to have no Monday morning or Friday afternoon classes, get a cheap apartment there, and come home for the weekends. J sez she can live with that for a year, especially if I take the hound with me during the week. It is worth spending the time to apply, especially since I have to update my materials to apply for the coastal community college job.

Class went OK.
I spent an hour before class giving an oral exam to a student who choked on the midterm. She did ok on the identifications, not so well on explaining the essay - I just asked her the same questions she had studied but let her talk her way through the answers rather than having to put it in writing. She garbled half the essay, I need to decide between a C and a D for the whole thing. But, considering that her blue book would have been an F, we are not so bad. I spent some time after class talking about study tricks. She wants to do well, but work is crazy and she is a single mom. It is frustrating watching someone with a strong drive, little recent academic experience, and very little free time. I suggested that she try taping the lectures, and that she double up notes with someone.

For class, we spent the first 90 minutes watching the PBS video of A Midwife's Tale. It is a dramatization of the Laura Ulrich history that won the Bannister a few years ago. I keep forgetting just how sad it is - I had to pull out the hankie once or twice. It is also marvelously rich.

After a break we then talked about the 1790s. I made it through Hamilton's financial program, then tried to do the French Revolution in 10 minutes. Too much detail and I bogged down on the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies. Should have skipped ahead to Gironde and Jacobins.

After class talked for 40 minutes with another of the students. She wanted to go over her midterm and see why it was a C (fuzzy prose, and she left out half the essay, good ideas). Then we went over today's homework. It was a darn good question: "Who do you admire more, Hamilton or Jefferson?" and she had done a mess of research to write it. She found herself admiring Jefferson and wanting to know more - I ended up suggesting Kolchin on Slavery, Merrill Peterson's old 1-volume biography and the LOA edition of Jefferson's Writings. She is a very smart lady who has been out of school for many years.

We talked about precision in language. I had been correcting her language all the way through, and we had been laughing and joking about my giving her a hard time. I then gave her the mini-lecture about thoughts and speech. We think, at least for complicated things, in words . Our thought is only as precise and nuanced as our language. If you want to think well and think precisely, then you have to use words precisely and make sure that your words say no more and no less than exactly what you mean. This is something that lasts, if my students take away nothing but an interest in history, an awareness of change over time, and more precise habits of writing and speech, then I will have succeeded in teaching the survey. The stuff, the dates and names and stories, is actually secondary. Interest, change, and precision all last for years after formal education ends. She got quiet at that. I don't know if I was preaching and condescending, or if I hit a nerve. Perhaps both.

Then home, listening to more Lord of the Rings on tape. The Fellowship is heading home. The more I listen to this, the more I think that Tolkein is much better when read out loud. In print, I go too quickly and move on past the language when in fact the language, stiff and archaic and stilted at times, is the whole point of the books. The more I listen to this, the less I am looking forward to the new movie. I suspect that I will see it, but Peter Jackson's decision to garble the plot, mis-read Theoden, and totally destroy the personality and narrative of the triangle between Eowyn, Aragorn, and Arwen was just a bad decision. It left a bad taste in my mouth then, it makes me not want to see what other damage he will have done to the story.

Now to have a quick snack, not too large, and then to bed. I think a bowl of generic cheerios and a bit of Sports Consecrated will make a good calm-down.

Oh, and no problems with reflux after drinking coffee earlier today. J thinks it was stress-induced followed by the turmoil that lingers after anything that upsets a stomach. Perhaps.

ps, this was a good long blogging.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:31 AM | TrackBack

I just took a

I just took a nap. I was not focusing, it was not going well, I said to heck with it and went back to bed at 9:30. The odd thing is that I did not sleep, I just lay there and rested and thought about Civil Religion and the changes I am making on chapter 3.

I had talked about Providence, and I had talked about the way that, for some Presbyterians, Providence required a very narrow set of theology and doctrine. now I need to broaden the idea, I think the way to do that is to return to a discussion of the state church roots of American denominations, Paul Conkin stuff, and talk about the links between religion and civil behavior. I still have a tricky transition to get out of narrow-minded bigotry, I might have written that the other day and forgotten about it.

Now that I am up, taking a shower and, I think, I AM going to make some coffee. I am tired of not getting things done. If there were a pill that I could take to make myself more focused, I would take it. If coffee might do the trick, I will risk my tummy. I may regret these words.

And so to shower.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:12 AM | TrackBack

Slept 12:30 to 6:30.

Slept 12:30 to 6:30. I think I get a nap mid-morning.

Yesterday was distractable. I did not get a lot of my work done, even though I got a bit of housework done. I graded some, looked at the dissertation, but wasted several hours not writing, not able to concentrate. Finally got a few essays graded after J went to bed, I seem to get a second wind around 9:30 or 10:00 at night.

Today I get to finish grading, finish prep for class, nap, shower, perhaps get a haircut but I doubt it. I need to head out at 2:30 at the latest, so start heading out at 2:00 so I will have time to walk the hound.

Oh, and we have another grey rainy day although the weather report calls for a little sun this afternoon. Still, I have the blahs.

I find myself wondering if yesterday would have been more productive with some caffeine, it probably would have. I have not had reflux in several days, I am looking forward to going back to coffee. Doctor L won't like to hear that, like many doctors she is anti-caffeine, anti-coffee.

My cold is much better, my sore throat is much better. I need to get back to the gym again, I have just stopped going between overwork, sick baby, and sick Ted.

Well, lets get a little work done.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:30 AM | TrackBack

June 04, 2003

Slept 10:45 to 6:15,

Slept 10:45 to 6:15, call it 7 and a half hours. That was the first night of uninterrupted sleep I have had in a long time. I still wanted more, but made myself get up.

For a change it is a grey, rainy day. Just like 18 of the last 20 days or so it seems. It is a good day to drink coffee and read novels and pet the cat. I will drink water and write and ignore the cat other than going to buy her more cat food.

I have the baby today, dropped him off at daycare then came back to start my day. TTD today: cleaners, call about cat food, calls for house, write, grade, cook dinner, perhaps do a quick groceries run. I will be babysitting tonight also as J is going for a choir rehearsal.

And so to work

FEH, Blogger does not render properly in Mozilla and I can't find the publish button.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:29 AM | TrackBack

June 03, 2003

A pretty good day.

A pretty good day.

Spent the mid-day wrestling with class prep and writing. I know I did things, I just forget what they were. I am very tired now.

I had a nap around 2:00, walked the dog, headed out.

Dropped things off at the print shop, went to drop of an exam for the student who is out of town this week, found out I had left the printed-off exams back home, bother. Went to the library, arranged my reserve readings, then off to the computer lab to pull the study sheet off my email and write the exam again. Dropped that off and discovered that I had forgotten to mention to the kids that I would be providing the blue books. One of them panic'd and has been running around like a headless chicken trying to get a book to write her exam in.

Made it to class a few minutes early. As often happens, only 5 folks were there at starting time. They decided that exam first, class time second would be easier on their minds. So, that is what we did. Slowest writer was 80 minutes, fastest writer was 60 minutes, they had the questions in advance and there were not that many of them. I expect it was an easy exam except for the person who had a brain freeze. She talked to me, and we are doing an oral exam on Thursday afternoon.

Then talked about the paper. I spent so much time on everything else, I forgot to clean up the question itself. I HAVE to get better about that. They talked me out of another week to write it, 3 weeks instead of 2. I was late getting the topic to them, and agreed.

Started in on the early republic. Just did the Northwest territory and then talked about Jefferson and Hamilton. I am not doing my 80 minute Jefferson lecture this time, but I am plugging bits and pieces of TJ and Ham and Mad and GW into the classes.

My throat is bothering me, I got very tired while giving the exam, and I am tired now. The left side of my throat is sore, so sore that my upper left teeth hurt. After getting home I had some Wheaties and milk, and that helped. Going to go lie in bed, if I wake up or can't sleep then I will have had a nap and should feel shart enough to grade.

Oh, the baby is painfully cute as I write this. He has turned in his sleep and is now crossways across the crib with one foot up a little on the crib bumber. If we did not think that the flash would wake him, we would take a picture.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:35 AM | TrackBack

Slept from about 1:00

Slept from about 1:00 to about 7:00, with a break around 2:00 when the baby had a coughing fit in his sleep. Went to bed around 12:40 after staying up prepping class and trying to punch my new acetates for their binder. Our 3-ring punch is broken, will either get a new one or give the acetates to J and ask her to use her office's big punch.

Woke up tired, we all slept in. Baby started coughing about 2:00, J gave him cough medicine in his sleep, but he was still grumping and coughing. She could not sleep either - her eye is itching - so she got up and sat in the rocking chair for a while. Baby went vertical, stopped coughing, and fell asleep in her arms. She is afraid she has conjunctivitis, caught from the baby.

Had a slow moving morning, did not get to work till after 9:00. Burned a CD for J, she had been unable to use VPN to get the things she had been working on last night to get uploaded again. Graded papers, prepped folders for class. Still need to print things out, decide how to copy the first half of the packet, and get to campus early enough to drop off the second half of the packet for copying and put materials on reserve at the library. At least the exam is ready.

Working on page 17 again, right now I have too much stuff in there. I will cut it back once I know where I am going.

And back to work (my scalp itches)

Posted by Red Ted at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

June 02, 2003

I can not sleep.

I can not sleep. I itch, not all over, but almost all over, spot to spot to spot. Why? I have been scratchey for a couple of days and it has gotten worse. First my back, now my knees, and my sides, and my scalp. Did I shower too hot? Am I getting allergic to our detergent? Is it just stress-related, perhaps a change of pace from the reflux? Oh, the reflux has not bothered me for a couple of days. This is good.

Woke up scratchey, no, got out of bed scratchey - never fell asleep - when the baby cried. Re-binkied him, wrote another couple of sentences that I had been thinking about.

Now to try to go back to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:00 AM | TrackBack

Got some things done

Got some things done on the revised page 17, just plugging quotes in but it is something.

Found a job offer, spent half an hour looking at it, decided it was not a good place to try to move to in September of this year. In fact, if I see other jobs for this fall I should only bother researching things that are close enough that we won't have to move or wonderful enough that we won't mind living apart for a few months as we sell the house we just agreed to buy.

Tired, and so to bed. I still need to prep for the class part of tomorrow (more on First Congress, making the Early Republic work.)

Posted by Red Ted at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

While thinking about commonwealth

While thinking about commonwealth ideals I found another interesting blog. I tried to add it to my template but it is not publishing. Perhaps if I put something in.

Oh, I did decide to turn commonwealth ideals into Christian republicanism and civil religion. I will need to define civil religion.

Also, remember to include the grading rubric in the packet for the kids tomorrow.

and back to work (took a break to bathe the baby)

Posted by Red Ted at 09:10 AM | TrackBack

Hmm, I missed yesterday.

Hmm, I missed yesterday.

Yesterday I worked some, I watched the baby a lot, I worked some, I cooked dinner, I did dishes, I watched the baby, I worked a little. I got sleepy.

I slept poorly last night, should have gone to bed at 9:45 with J, instead I stayed up to get a little more done. Did get a little more done, but when I got unproductive and went to bed around 10:30 I found that I could not sleep. J was snoring, and I did not want to mess with her sleep after her hard week. So I grabbed a book and a glass of milk and moved to the couch. Finished Franklin's Autobiography, drank milk, tried to fall asleep there. I could hear the neighbor's stero and the couch was too soft. Around 11:30 went back to bed, no dice, up again by midnight. Played some E&B till 1:00, then read 19th century political cartoons from Harper's Weekly's web site, was thinking about going back to bed but baby started to cough. Gave him cough medicine around 2:00, a little before, finally got to bed at 3:00am. Had trouble falling asleep.

So, this morning, J is up bright and early, pokes me at 6:15, and wonders why I did not want to wake up. Slept in until 7:05, after getting up to change the baby. Walked the dog, played with dog and baby, read the news online, now heading to start my day. I think I get caffeine today, I have not decided on tea or cocoa.

To do today:
Finish planning the second paper for US1. Current thought is to look at Bleeding Sumner and the 1856 Presidential election.
Drop off rent at the office.
Go to the bank
Drop off book review at Fed-Ex pickup.
Prep class for tomorrow
Figure out how to handle the commonwealth ideal on page 17 of chapter 3.
Either naps or caffeine, but not both and not a lot of either.

And so to break my fast.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:53 AM | TrackBack

AAARGH I just checked


I just checked schedules. If I want to graduate in the Summer semester, I have to turn in a completed, SIGNED dissertation on August 1. That gives me 2 months to revise 4 chapters, get them to readers, make changes, and organize a defense. It is not going to happen, but I do want to drive to get to the defense by the end of August.

And here I spent all today being tired and stupid from poor sleep habits, and working on the second paper topic for BCC. That thing has eaten too many hours of my time this weekend. I hope I will be sharp enough tonight to start working through commonwealth ideals.

I should cook, but I am not hungry. I never did go to the gym. I did have a powerful 40 minute nap with following 20 minutes of maziness - I just got pole-axed around 3:20. I had been listening to Return of the King in the car, and orcs were arguing in nasty voices. I dreamed of, of all things, Charlie Brown and Linus working in a sweatshop driven by the Orcs from the guard tower at the start of book 6. Charlie Brown was hopeless, while Linus could fold garments perfectly. I have no idea what this meant. I also have no idea why I can nap just fine on that couch but I could not fall asleep on it last night. Perhaps it is that I was being poleaxed this afternoon and restless last night.

And so to commonwealth ideals.

Posted by Red Ted at 07:09 AM | TrackBack

May 31, 2003

I slept well. I

I slept well. I needed that sleep.

J was out singing at a choir gig, I had tbe baby. Baby started acting tired a little after 8:00. Tried to give him his bedtime snack but he was not interested. Put him to bed around 8:15, he grabbed his binkie and seemed to be on the way out but started crying a few minutes later. Rocked the crib at 8:30 and he seemed to be asleep, but started crying a few minutes later. By 8:45 I said to heck with it, picked him up and walked and sang. He was asleep by the end of one chorus of "mockingbird" and in his crib by the end of the second. checked email and then to bed.

Slept 9:45 to 6:30, sound sleep, disturbed a little by J coming home at 10, baby waking and snacking at 11:00, and J waking every 2 hours to cough.

Woke, sleepy and with a sore throat. Took dawg and baby for walk, breakfast while J napped. Then went and worked on the text review for an hour. This is taking a lot longer than I had hoped it would. Finished one section, and time for a change of pace. Blogging, then probably going to win the baby for a few minutes while J gets things done.

And so to the rest of my day.

Posted by Red Ted at 09:22 AM | TrackBack

May 30, 2003

Mid-day update. I tried

Mid-day update.

I tried writing this in the web interface, hit a stray key, and ended up going back and wiping the form. So, writing in WP, will cut and paste, not save the word processor document.

Yesterday after blogging I had a quick nap, walked the dog, and headed out. After my shower I had put on a dark shirt in case my nose let go again. As I was heading out I decided that the nose was stable and changed to my preferred white shirt to go teach.

Headed to the CC to pick up a library book, a package, and some printouts from the print shop. Got my package (review textbook, 2 review readers, and a nice set of transparencies for teaching the US survey) but my documents were nowhere to be found. Went down to the print shop and chased it down. The secretary I had sent them to has been out sick and never forwarded them to the print shop. I retrieved them from my email, printed things off, and headed out. Forgot to grab a stack of blue books for Tuesday, need to do that on my way over. Also need to drop off a specially scheduled exam for a student who has to be out of town next week.

Made it to class a few minutes before we started, after going into the base from a different gate than the one I normally use and getting nervous about directions and locations. When I got there the students were already discussing the question from today's homework. I had asked "Was the conflict of 1775-1783 a Revolution or was it a Civil War?" It is a trick question, of course, it was a civil war among Englishmen, that became revolutionary as they broke away, led to a civil war among American colonists, and finally led to a revolutionary rethinking of politics, society, and human rights. When I read their homework later it seems that most of them just recapped my Tuesday lecture on the sequence of the imperial crisis. Still, if they got that they are in good shape.

On Tuesday I had made really good time through the crisis and the revolution. Today we moved slower early on. We reviewed the revolution form 1777 to the end, talked about goals, and then moved on to the One and the Many. Covered state constitutions, Articles of Confederation, Shays's Rebellion, Philadelphia Convention, Ratification, and said a few words about the bill of rights. I fell into lecture mode again - a sign that I was not well-enough prepared. By the end, they were glazing over. I am entertaining, but I still exhausted them. On Tuesday I will have to pick up at the first congress and repeat some of what I said.

We spent the last half hour reviewing the exam. I wrote the exam Wednesday while feeling loopy and out of it. Looking at it yesterday, it was not a good exam. The Ids are fine, but the essay questions are all vague, provocative comprehension questions. I did not include any of the Coffey Specials (Tell me A, B, C about 1, 2,3) where you can just check off A1, A2, A3 and give them a grade based on their ability to describe moments. A couple of the students just took, last semester, a class on training for the business environment. A big focus of that class had been examination design, building test banks, building examinations, structuring examinations, and so on. They had been taught that no more than 20% of an examination should be comprehensive, the bulk should be knowledge, the remaining third application. They were very cranky that I was basing, between the midterm and the final, almost half their grade on comprehensive questions. I explained that 1, that is how American historians normally teach on the college level, that that was how I evaluate all my classes, including my survey classes, and that that was how I had been trained to evaluate history classes. They were not all that happy, but I told them that based on the midterm I would consider adding knowledge and applications questions to the final. They are used to 90 or 100 short questions - fill in the blank, true false, chronological order, etc.

I am thinking about giving them quotes and identifications for the final. I might also list the events of the sectional crisis and ask them to put them into chronological order. Think on this.

Talked with mr plagarism after class. I asked him about how he had written the paper, and he told me about looking things up on his son's textbook and resource kit. I then pointed out that he had word-for-word plagarized at least 3 and probably 4 different web sites. He is a 4th year student, he should know better. He gets an F for the assignment, and if this were UVA he would be expelled.

I normally offer people one chance at a re-write. He will get a chance to write a new paper, and I will decide at the end of the semester whether or not to insert it in place of the F. If nothing else, he gets the pedagogy of writing a new paper.

That took time, and I was late getting out of the building. Then I took a wrong turn heading out of the base, realized it was wrong, turned around, and took ANOTHER wrong turn. I ended up heading home on a road I had never driven before. I eventually pulled over, looked at my map, and realized what I had done.

Home late, and not sleepy. Ate 2 bowls of raisin bran (cereal seems to be a good late-night after-teaching food) and then read for a little while. Finished a Bernard Cornwell (they ARE addictive) then was still not sleepy so went and graded homework. Finished that and was playing a little E&B deciding if I was sleepy when my character died and J woke up. That was a sign, and I went to bed.

Poor sleep last night. J has a cough, and was up a couple of times. Baby has a cough, and was up a couple of times. All I remember from last night is J rocking the baby as he cried. It felt like it went on forever and ever. This morning J sez it only happened 3 times and I must have drowsed through the rest. Did NOT want to wake up this morning, slept in till after 7:00.

Today's plans:
Grocery shopping
Farm stand
Bank run
More whiteboard eraser solvent
Finish the textbook review.
Have dinner ready at 5:00 for J.
Start reviewing Chapter 3 for the changes I will need to make.
Oh, and hit the library and check out Mel Gibson's The Patriot to watch while babysittng. Maybe.

So far I woke up, stared at the walls, walked dog and baby, sent J and baby off, read email, and wrote a couple of pages of review. Hit a stopping point and went to write this.

Posted by Red Ted at 11:27 AM | TrackBack

May 29, 2003

Another day, another lack

Another day, another lack of morning updates.

Slept about 11:00 to 6:30. Did not want to get up. In fact, at 6:15 I got up, changed the baby, handed him to J, and went back to bed. I lay there, dreaming but not sleeping, for another half hour. I have no fever, I got enough sleep (almost) and yet I am tired and stupid and feel sick. Why?

Spent the morning working very slowly. Finished grading papers. Finished up the midterm study sheet. Did a little more class prep. Decided that the topic for the second paper will need to be changed before they can write a decent paper on it.

Some of the papers are good, several of them are just plain too short. One person cribbed the entire thing. He and I get to have a chat.

Breakfast was a bowl of cereal, no toast or muffins.

Lunch was a big bowl of leftover spaghetti and sausages.

I am packing a sandwich for today. I need to hit the bank and the office goods store to deposit checks, get quarters, and buy more whiteboard solution. I really do prefer whiteboards.

Oh, and I blew out my nose today. I was feeling less congested last night, and not feverish, so I went off the cold meds. I was ok today, blowing my nose about once an hour, and goosh the left nostril let go. I managed to get it to clot fairly quickly. But still, I think this is my first cold-induced nose bleed since I was a teenager.

So, I am teaching in something other than a white shirt and a tie. I have a plaid blazer shirt, cut like a dress shirt but dark and less obvious when my nose will drip blood on it.

time to walk the dog, take a quick nap (not in that order) and head out for errands, cc library, cc office staff chat, and thence to teach.

Posted by Red Ted at 02:28 AM | TrackBack

May 28, 2003

Forgot to update this

Forgot to update this morning.

Lets see,
Tuesday, prepped class, worked on chapter 4, sent chapter 4 out in the afternoon. YAY. Started working on the textbook review.

Taught class, Imperial Crisis and American Revolution, got through almost everything I wanted to - but at the cost of too much lecturing. Remember to do some other things on Thursday.

Came home, had a snack, went to bed. Baby was not tired, not tired, not tired, overtired. I ended up getting up and walking him to sleep, he was asleep before I finished singing Mockingbird the first time through.

Slept 11:00 to 6:30, broken sleep. I was up once for cold meds, J was up several times coughing.

Today I felt feverish much of the day, even with cold meds and extra tylenol. Was not all that productive. I am getting very tired of being sick, and it has been less than a week.

Today I: sketched out class prep, sketched out midterm study sheet, read through the papers once, graded a couple of papers, hit the library and dry cleaners, ran a load of laundry, found a conference to send a paper to, researched a school to apply for a job at, had a nap, and wasted some time. I feel behind.

Hungry at the moment, waiting for J to come home and dinner to be ready. meatloaf and potatoes and squash and maybe some buttered carrots for dinner. Should be good. Finished the sloppy joes for lunch. Cereal and toast for breakfast.

And so to tylenol myself.

Posted by Red Ted at 05:42 AM | TrackBack

May 27, 2003

Slept 10:30 to 6:10

Slept 10:30 to 6:10 or so, call it 7 and 1/2 hours of broken sleep. Up at 12:30 (cold med), 2:30, 3:30 and was woken by a cranking baby around 5. Baby went back to sleep and so did we. J was sleeping towards the middle of the bed again, which was cozy but cramped.

Yesterday was a tired tired day. I was exhausted after pushing on Friday,Saturday,Sunday. Yesterday I slept in, finished marking up the chapter I am reviewing, started prepping for tonight's class, stopped at 3:00 to go fetch J and baby from airport.

Home from airport around 5:00, did not get to work until 8:00. Spent some more time working on class prep, very distractable. Bailed at 9:30 or so for a snack. While snacking I figured out what was bugging me about my argument in chapter 4. Went and took 2 pages of typed notes, looked things up in a couple of books, have a plan for how to fix the problems. Today I get to revise 4 with those typed notes in front of me.

Meals Monday:
Breakfast, english muffin, toast, cereal
Lunch: sloppy joes
Dinner: spaghetti with sausage and peppers. It was going to be chicken in red sauce, but I neither cooked up the chicken in time nor wrapped and froze it, and it went bad in the fridge. I feel stupid. I should have taken the time on Friday to put them up, or on Sunday to cook them.

Today's plans
Finish prepping for class, Imperial Crisis and early Am Rev
Revise chapter 4 with those notes
Hit the CC library for a book for diss, grab printouts to hand out to kids from print center.
Revise 4 from those notes
Get 4 out the door
Write up the review
Get the review out the door.

That is too much for one day, looks like I am not going to get the bonus for finishing the review quickly.

And so to breakfast.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:32 AM | TrackBack

May 26, 2003

Slept 2:00 to about

Slept 2:00 to about 7:30. Woke at 5:00 and, I think, 6:00. Made myself go back to bed at 6:00 and then did not want to get out of bed. I fear I may have jet-lagged myself this weekend.

Yesterday was a pretty good day.
Spent the morning cranking through chapter 4. Edited, made changes, checked what I found, revised some more. Completed a workable draft around 4:00 and put it aside. I will look at it again today or tomorrow before sending it off - there are two books I want to check for information that I am not sure about. One is on the shelves at BCC, the other is out but has been recalled to the local branch.

Spent the late afternoon and early evening catching up on other work. Graded homework, Thursday's question was "Why did the American colonists use slave labor?" I think I should have added the words "instead of free labor?" to the end.

Started reviewing a textbook for Bedford/St. Martins. So far it looks interesting.

Also made some time to cook dinner (sloppy joes), fluffle the dog's ears, and watch the rest of Legally Blonde. It was about the movie I expected it to be, I liked the smart-girl you-go-girl message, I was intrigued by the way there were a fair number of gay characters but they were all used for comic relief. For a movie about gender roles and gender expectations, I expected a little more. Am glad I watched it, not sure if I am interested in the sequel.

After shutting down I read a little, finished Crossroads of Twilight, the 10th in the series of Robert Jordan fantasy novels. It is an interesting world he has created, with a lot of compelling characters, but he has gotten bogged down. There are too many plot lines, too many names, too many conspiracies. At least this one was not full of bickering women hitting each other like a couple of the earlier ones. I started out liking these a lot, I was buying them in hardcover. He is down to library only, or perhaps $2 at a discount sale.

Got to bed late, and slept fitfully. Lay in bed for a while after waking, then made myself get going.

J comes home today, her plane is due in a little before 4:00. I will head out around 3:00 and bring a book, probably Franklin's writings.

And so to walk the dog.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:13 AM | TrackBack

May 25, 2003

Busy writing this weekend.

Busy writing this weekend.

Slept midnight to about 7:30. It was broken sleep, up at 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00 to pee. Took more cold meds at 4:00.

Slow moving morning, just now getting back to work.

Yesterday I finished scribbling the new section around mid afternoon. Ate 2 squares of pizza and went to typing. Finished that around 9:00pm. ate a bowl of cereal and started proofing and re-reading. Found one big bad error, luckily in a section that I had indicated was incomplete, and spent time fixing that. Around midnight decided I was being inefficient and went to bed.

I think I had gotten temperance and anti-slavery confused when I talked about Methodist softening in the 1790s. I wish I had a copy of Matthews or Heyrman to check the historiography on that. I will grab Heyrman on Tuesday when I go by the community college. I am working with Bangs, a primary source, and he has nothing on the ways that Methodists actually interpreted and followed their discipline.

And so to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

Note to self, add

Note to self, add this to the template. Link not working at the moment.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:08 AM | TrackBack

Note to self, add

Note to self, add this to the template. Link not working at the moment.

Posted by Red Ted at 06:08 AM | TrackBack

May 24, 2003

I forgot to put

I forgot to put in my bedtime update yesterday.

I was sleepy yesterday, and although I worked a lot of hours I did not get a lot written - sentances went slowly. I did get a couple of yellow pages but wanted more.

It has been grey and rainy and sleepy the last few days, I am dealing with a cold, it is a little hard to concentrate.

Yesterday mid-morning I dropped J and baby off at the airport to visit her dad and came home to write. Wrote, dithered about what to have for lunch and made 3 hot dogs. In the afternoon I wrote, walked the dog, wrote, got a pizza, wrote and wrote. I am getting into the swing of things.

Around midnight I shut down. I then went to read a little before going to bed, bad idea. Those Bernard Cornwell novels are too hard to put down. No more out of the library for a while - too much like potato chips. To bed around 2:00, trouble falling asleep. Alarm was set for 7:00 this morning, so under 5 hours of sleep. This is not good - two nights in a row of short sleep starts me on a pattern.

Watch the sugar and caffeine today.

And so to work, about an hour late.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:57 AM | TrackBack

May 23, 2003

Pretty good day. Spent

Pretty good day.

Spent the morning writing, took one brief naplet with my yellow pad. Got (pauses to count) 4 yellow sheets, prepped for the night class, did a little housework.

First lunch was leftover chicken and brocolli. Second lunch was also leftover chicken and brocolli. No more stir fry because I eated it all! I like that dish.

Class went fairly well. A couple of the students had trouble following the first two classes, so this time I made sure to do a better job of setting things up and explaining the connections. We did 100 years in 3 hours, focusing on the middle colonies, on colonial slavery, on the enlightenment and on the awakening. We read a page by John Locke and talked about how Locke differed from the John Winthrop we read on Tuesday. I think I like that combination and will use it again.

After class I discovered that bonehead Ted had left the lights on. The car battery was dead (almost dead - still had clock time afterwards). I called triple A, discovered that I was not a member, and flagged down a passing truck before buying an instant membership from them. Got a jump (this is why we have cables in the back of that car) and came home.

Late dinner, a 3-egg mushroom omelette around 10:00 at night. (3 eggs, 2 mushrooms, 3 scallions, 1 big clove garlic, salt, thyme) and two slices of the new bread. I did another honey wheat loaf, this time with a splash of walnut oil.

Read a book to unwind, Sharpe's Triumph by Bernard Cornwell. Was a fun light read, finished it around 12:20.

Checked email, wrote this, and am deciding if I am tired enough to sleep. I drank a Pepsi before teaching because I was tired, and now I have the caffeine problem. Oh, no reflux today until after teaching, I blame the soda. No reflux yesterday until after dinner, perhaps the garlic and salt? Took two Tums around 12:20 after I finished my book and got up to pee.

And so to let the dog out.

Posted by Red Ted at 12:54 PM | TrackBack

An odd morning. Slept

An odd morning.

Slept about 3:15 to 7:00. Was unable to go to sleep after blogging, read another book, drank some milk, and finally felt sleepy.

Woke up and helped J pack for her weekend. I played with the baby, that was my way of helping. It kept short stuff out of the way while she put things into bags.

Breakfast, 1 bowl mixed great-grains and generic oat and barley, 2 slices toast, both with ted-slime, 1 with rasberry jam. I trashed the open marmalade - it was crystallizing and I just was not interested in eating more of it. After about a year, from Passover to Passover, my marmalade frenzy is slacking off. I still have 7 seville oranges in the fridge and freezer, so I should make some more marmalade at SOME point.

Caught up on email, did a little reading in Bender Antislavery Controversy earlier. Today I need to finish the antislavery section so I can polish it up and insert it over the weekend.

I get to eat whatever I want all weekend - I don't have to worry about making things that J likes. And, of course, I am hungry and do not know what to make. Go figure.

And so to lunch

Posted by Red Ted at 01:40 AM | TrackBack

May 22, 2003

Slept from about midnight

Slept from about midnight to about 6:00, call it 6 and 1/2 hours. I get a nap later today.

Baby is MUCH better today. he went off to daycare, I get to catch up on 2 days worth of writing, and prep class, and get my nap, and run a load or two of laundry.

Breakfast was a bowl of great-grains and cheerios, 2 slices of toast with ted-slime, the second slice with honey on it. Oh, and I get to make another loaf of bread.

And now to work.

Posted by Red Ted at 08:10 AM | TrackBack

May 21, 2003

What a tiring day!

What a tiring day!

Baby woke up at