28 June 2003

Wow Red Sox

The Sox beat the Marlins 25-8 last night in a game that has Marlins manager Jack McKeon accusing the Sox of deliberately running up the score to make up for a problematic bull pen. MMM...can somebody say sore loser? It was a record-breaking game. Wish I had been there.

24 June 2003

New Directions in Historical Inquiry

Invisible Adjunct is surely not a "fuddy-duddy" for suggesting that a recent article in the American Historical Review advocating a "paradigm shift" towards disability history, was, um, a tad overdone. Catherine Kudlick claims in this article that "disability is so vast in its economic, social, political, cultural, religious, legal, philosophical, artistic, moral, and medical import that it can force historians to reconsider virtually every concept, every event, every 'given' we have taken for granted."

Now I am not saying that disability is unimportant, but I find it really difficult to believe that if I read a history of disability in early America it would completely change my historical outlook. Yes, I can see it now. I'll rename my dissertation and change its focus: "Religion, Race, and Disability in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake."

It's really sad that historians feel like they have to present every idea as the next new thing--the greatest contribution to history since last year's major paradigm shift. I think this is caused by the pressure to publish (and publish brilliantly and frequently). Thus what could have been an interesting article about the place of disability in history and a think piece on how we might reasonably use our understanding of it to shed light on social attitudes in the past became an overblown piece of hyperbole I just can't take seriously.

No wonder the general public doesn't read academic history.

23 June 2003

Tell Your Senators NO on Pryor

The nomination of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals would be a disaster. In addition to his opposition to freedom of choice, Pryor has opposed legislation such as the VIolence Against Women Act, the Voting Rights Act, and has compared homosexuality to bestiality and necrophilia. Geez. Where do the Bushies find these nutcases?

You can read about Pryor here.

20 June 2003

Blogger Stinks

Well, supposedly I've been upgraded to a new version of Blogger, but as you can see from the two confused posts below, it still suffers from the same Blogger weirdness.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

For the past year I have been eagerly reading every scrap that comes out about the new Harry potter book. I've relentlessly checked websites and gossiped with friends in the English department about possible new plot lines. For the past two weeks, of course, hype has been steadily growing and I have read every piece of hype that's come out. On Tuesday I trotted over to Harvard Book Store and preordered my very own copy. I also signed up for the store's midnight release party this evening.

I just left a voicemail for my boyfriend reminding him that I would be attending the party and he was welcome to come along when it hit me. I am neck-deep in...hype. I've always been the one who refuses to see the popular movies (The Matrix Reloaded and LOTR excepted). I've also been the one who tells people, truthfully, that until six months ago I had never heard of Britney Spears, and JLo who? I have always said that whatever the media has to say about pop culture means nothing to me.

But my anticipation for Harry Potter 5 has catapulted me into pop culture wonderland. I am so excited about getting my very own copy of The Order of the Phoenix that I can scarcely contain myself. This doesn't mean, however, that in the future I'll be lining up three weeks in advance to watch the new Star Wars movie. I hope to hold my love of hype to books only.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

For the past year I have been eagerly reading every scrap that comes out about the new Harry potter book. I've relentlessly checked websites and gossiped with friends in the English department about possible new plot lines. For the past two weeks, of course, hype has been steadily growing and I have read every piece of hype that's come out. On Tuesday I trotted over to

12 June 2003


Invisible Adjunct is back, after what sounds like several days of computer-related annoyance.

05 June 2003

Timothy Burke Says it Just Right

Burke, a professor of African history at Swarthmore, has an excellent post on the American terrorist Eric Rudolph's vocal North Carolina supporters. An excerpt:

Eric Rudolph appears to have had the aid and sympthy of more than a few people in the area where he conducted his fugitive existence. It also seems there is broad agreement among pundits and bloggers that this is a vexing thing. Am I wrong in thinking, however, that conservative commentators have had, on average, only a small proportion of the vehemence they would have had about such sympathy in comparison to what would happen if there were a number of people spotted in Santa Cruz, California with “Go Osama!” t-shirts on? Andrew Sullivan is quite clear that Christian fascism and intolerance is as bad as any other form—but where is the equivalent of his “Sontag Award” ? Where is the red meat feeding-frenzy over signs in Murphy, North Carolina expressing support for Rudolph? Where is the pulpit-pounding? Where are the bills in Congress proposing to rename Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer "Liberty"?

I think there's a segment of our population--a fifth column, if you will--that believes that Rudolph's murderous behavior was OK because it targeted abortion clinics and gay nightclubs, and made anti-federal government statements. Burke is correct: the right has not responded to this terrorism with any vehemence at all. Conservative commentators and bloggers had much more to say when Americans on the left suggested that Americans should look to themselves in order to at least partially understand terrorism from abroad. I remember the squeals of outrage and protest then--where's the outrage on the right now?

History Without Sources?

Fred Kaplan reports in Slate that many of today's major policy decisions (including when to go to war) are being made via email. These emails aren't being printed or saved anywhere systematically. Kaplan posits the "End of History"--it will be impossible to write, for example, the history of Gulf War II because none of the relevant sources that would give an historian insight into the process have been saved.

I greet this news with a mix of outrage and scepticism. Outrage because I cannot believe our leaders over the past fifteen years or so have been so irresponsible as to not make provisions for this sort of thing. And scepticism, because Will Crawford often tells me that any emails I send to him or vice versa wind up saved on some distant hard drive somewhere, even if both of us delete our copies. I find it hard to believe that with all this technology the emails of the Joint Chiefs aren't stored somewhere.

Either way, I don't like the idea of a wrinkle in the historical record. Hopefully some way can be worked out to preserve primary sources from this era so thirty years from now my graduate students (!) will have something to do.

04 June 2003

Republican Congress Disregards Women's Health...So What Else is New?

The House will likely vote today on a measure the Senate has already approved to ban the so-called "partial-birth abortion" procedure. As one of today's New York Times editorials points out, the law is incredibly broad. It has the potential to ban all abortion procedures in the second and third trimesters and lacks any provision to provide an exception to save the life or health of the mother. (This is because Congress has decided to play doctor and the bill actually contains language explaining that there is no life-threatening pregnancy in which this particular procedure would be necessary: "[partial-birth abortion] is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother." Somehow all those Republican Congressmen went out and became OB/GYNs when I was not looking.)

What is truly disturbing here is that no one seems to want to talk about women. Earlier the President signed a bill giving health coverage to fetuses but not to mothers (!). Now, Bush is poised to sign a bill in which the "life" of a fetus trumps the life, health, and decision-making processes of women. An article in today's Washington Post makes a similar point: Then there are situations arising from the availability of medical technology that permits a previously impossible glimpse inside the womb. Amniocentesis, which doctors urge for women over 35 because of the heightened risk of birth defects, is not performed until the 15th or 16th week of pregnancy. Other fetal defects may be detected on sonograms only at that stage or later. This puts women squarely in the zone where partial-birth abortion becomes an awful possibility. In effect, Congress is inserting itself into women's health-related decision-making by effectively taking the place of doctors--with potentially tragic results.

Right now I can feel the fists of a group of old white men closing inexorably on my uterus as they pass laws also upheld by old white men about what I can and cannot do with my own body, even to protect it. Some of my friends wonder why I feel so strongly about the policy administrations of this administration--and to me it all comes down to whether or not the laws of this country will continue to see me as a person or simply as a pod by which other people enter the world. And if anyone out there thinks this isn't a political power play to gain control of women's bodies, I refer you to the Family Research Council whose most recent circular claims that "With this bill, we are beginning to dismantle, brick by brick, the deadly edifice created by Roe v. Wade."