29 January 2006

This Week's Acqusitions...

...are all of a musical variety. (In other words, instead of contributing to the rapid increase in the size of my library this week, I bought CDs.)

My order from my classical music club came in, and here's what I got:

Angela Gheorghiu, Mysterium. The Romanian soprano sings a variety of oft-performed sacred music, but the opening four pieces are all Romanian religious music I've never heard before. Lovely.

Kiri Te Kanawa, Kiri. Another famous soprano sings a variety of her favorites, from Puccini arias to Gerswhin, Bernstein, and other modern masters. Great stuff.

Moscow Liturgical Choir, Russian Easter Liturgy. I don't own much Russian choral music (off the top of my head I think the only other recording I have is of Rachmaninoff's Vespers).

King's College Cambridge Choir and the Cambridge Classical Players, Mozart, Vespers. Another way to celebrate Mozart's birthday.

San Francisco Symphony and Chorus, Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem. A nice companion to Verdi's Requiem, which I also enjoy listening to.

Gothic Voices, hildegard von Bingen, A Feather on the Breath of God. I do like Hildegard. I own a lot of medieval chant and polyphony; my favorite group is Anonymous 4.

And, lest you think that I only listen to choral music, my last new CD: Evgeny Kissin plays Chopin (The Four Ballades, Berceuse, Barcarolle, and Scherzo #4).

It was lovely to sit at home this afternoon listening to my new music while I worked. It was a bad day to be outside--raw and wet.

Sunday Afternoon Word Cloud...

As seen at New Kid on the Hallway, my wordcloud:

27 January 2006

Happy Birthday...

Happy 250th Birthday, that is, to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I'm celebrating my listening to my brother's radio station's day-long Mozart fest--featuring a documentary and lots of Mozart music--online at http://www.kcme.org/. You too can listen in. KCME also has great links to assorted Mozart stuff. Enjoy, and happy Friday!

26 January 2006


To Professor Laurel Ulrich, my dissertation advisor, who was just named University Professor. Her students are pleased as punch and very, very proud.
The University Professorships, first created by the President and Fellows in 1935, are chairs intended for "individuals of distinction ... working on the frontiers of knowledge, and in such a way as to cross the conventional boundaries of the specialties."

The University Professorship, it seems, comes with some ancient and honorable privileges. It has been confirmed that University Professors may graze cows (but not sheep) in Harvard Yard. No word yet on whether or not Professor Ulrich is permitted to carry a sword to class or collect firewood in the Yard.

Of pressing interest to Professor Ulrich's graduate students: will we be paid for looking after the cows? Will we be permitted to engage in hands-on learning with our undergraduate students, teaching them the fine art of making cheese? Can we set up a buttery in Robinson Hall's Great Space? Can we reduce our grocery bills by bringing home fresh milk? Who assists with calving?

**UPDATE** Professor Ulrich might be entitled to have sheep and/or cows. The jury is still out. But apparently she would have to give some of the "proceeds" to Massachusetts Hall. Which simply begs the question, what would Larry Summers do with butter/raw milk/cheese/wool/mutton that he would receive?

24 January 2006


...but actually not really all that funny, is it?

Of course, Google is the only search engine actively fighting handing over search records to the Justice Department. Mind you, these are everyone's searches that the government wants, not just those searches associated with people already suspected of crimes.

(acquired via an email forward...if anyone knows who actually designed this, I'm happy to give proper credit)
**UPDATE: The cartoon is by Stuart Carlson of the Milwaukee Press Sentinel.

22 January 2006

Founding Father portrait rakes in the big bucks

Charles Willson Peale's full-length portrait of George Washington sold at auction today for $21.3 million. The story doesn't reveal who the buyer was, but I suspect at that price it was not a museum. That's a shame; I'm sure the portrait would hang nicely in the early America gallery here at the MFA, where I go periodically to visit the Copleys. (I could sit all day in front of Copley's portraits of Paul Revere and Mercy Otis Warren.)

Other Blogs Blogging Choice

You can go here to see a full list of blogs blogging for choice today, but here are some that I've been reading:

Sarah in Michigan

Threading Water

Bitch, PhD

and Redmeck Mother blogs for choice Texas style.

Blog for Choice Day

Today is the 33rd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

Roe is six years older than I am, making me a member of the privileged generation of women who have enjoyed complete reproductive autonomy. Because of Roe and its precedent decision, Griswold vs. Connecticut (1965) which struck down state laws banning the use of hormonal birth control, I enjoy the ability to control my fertility--a privilege I think I can safely say is historically unprecedented for women. I think it likely though, that Roe will shortly be overturned or be rendered moot by various state laws that so restrict abortion as to make impossible to obtain one. This will be a catastrophe for women--and it's a catastrophe that women of my generation, who have been so privileged in their ability to choose for themselves, are completely unprepared for. We have never had to face restrictions on birth control, or back alley or coat hanger abortions.
I find it hard to be passive on the issue of abortion, because I think bound up in all the rhetoric surrounding it are two fundamentally different approaches to the position of women in society. Anti-choicers are not motivated by a respect for life (generally speaking) but by a desperate desire to control women. If you think I am exaggerating, I invite you to go observe any women's health clinic (even those that don't perform abortions) in your town on a day when the protestors are lined up outside. I guarantee you'll come away from the experience with an entirely new perspective.

I have come to the conclusion that to give further ground on abortion will impact women negatively on a number of other levels. Already state governments don't trust us enough to make our own decisions so that we have to wait 24 hours, or beg a judge, or sneak across state lines. For me that's a short trip from the choice between a forced pregnancy and an illegal abortion--no choice at all.

With the growing threat that Roe will be overturned, I'd like to suggest that women try a new tactic--let us throw our collective support behind passage of the Freedom of Choice Act. This would short-circuit complaints about judicial activism and the constitutional right to abortion by enshrining the right to legal abortion in federal law. I would also suggest that Democrats make FOCA an issue in 2006 and 2008. Since the majority of Americans, while ambivalent about abortion morally, believe that abortion should nevertheless remain legal, this should appeal to voters who are sick of Supreme Court confirmation hearings in which all the participants carefully avoid the elephant in the room--Roe vs. Wade.

17 January 2006

Happy 300th Birthday, Benjamin Franklin!

My fellow historians, professional and armchair alike, should note that today is the 300th anniversary of the birth of the quintessential American, Benjamin Franklin. Joyce Chaplin, one of my comittee members, writes about Franklin and she suggests the following list of activities in celebration of the day:

1. eat an apple,
2. launch a hoax,
3. make a friend of an enemy,
4. write a letter,
5. buy, borrow, or lend a book,
6. make a charitable donation,
7. invent a labor-saving device,
8. commit a sexual indiscretion,
9. organize a club,
10. buy insurance,
11. rig up an experiment with ordinary household items,
12. play a musical instrument,
13. go for a swim.

You might also listen to some fine music played on the glass armonica, an instrument Franklin invented.
(crossposted at Cliopatria)

16 January 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

In case you did not realize it, today is Martin Luther King day. It's customary for me to note on this day that every day should be MLK day, in that every day we should be confronting the legacy of racism in our past and in our present.

Slate has a wonderful set of photographs in honor of the day.

15 January 2006

Sunday Morning MeMe

via New Kid on the Hallway:

Hair: short, dry, kind of spiky

Wearing: Portland, Maine Fire Department sweatpants, Harvard sweatshirt, and ancient slippers

Drinking: winter warmer tea

Listening: brother Joe's radio show on KCME-Colorado Springs. You too can listen in every Sunday morning from 8am-2pm (EST)

Reading: parts of Chapter Four (again)

History Carnival #23!

Rob MacDougall has done a wonderful job with History Carnival #23. I expect to be reading posts easily for the next fortnight.

I'm particularly interested in this post about whether or not the American Civil War transformed us grammatically and politically, from "the United States are" to the "United States is."

14 January 2006

Blog for Choice!

A friend of mine recently told me it's strange that I have been so silent about the Alito nomination, since I am staunchly pro-choice. Mostly I've been quite busy with my dissertation and the job market, too busy in fact to do much blogging about any topic, let alone a controversial one that requires a lot of thought and planning. I will end my silence on the subject on Sunday 22 January. I won't be blogging that day explicitly about Alito, but I will blog about why abortion should remain safe and legal in every state.

12 January 2006

AHA Acquisitions, etc.

One of the best things about the AHA is the Book Exhibit. Ideally, I think one should attend the Book Exhibit twice. The first time should be on Friday or Saturday. You wander up and down the aisles, scoping out the books and remembering which ones you would like to get. You also visit presses, and talk with editors in serious tones about Your Project. You give your card out to all an sundry. The second time should be mid-morning Sunday, when presses are packing up and, desperate to get rid of their stock so they don't have to ship it back, will sell hardcover books at astonishingly low prices. Bring a large bag and a wad of cash, and have at it.

Thomas A. Desjardin, Into the Howling Wilderness: Benedict Arnold's March to Quebec in 1775 (2005). I have a long-standing interest in Arnold's March, since I wrote my senior thesis about it. But alas, the index does not include references to my hero, William Dorr, and the bibliography does not mention the thesis of one Rebecca Goetz. Shoot.

Helen C. Rountree, Powhatan, Pocahontas, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown (2005). Continuing my interest in all things 2007, especially scholarly treatments of Pocahontas. In similar news, The New World movie will be out January 20th. That will be a post, I have no doubt.

05 January 2006

Blogging the AHA

I've arrived at the AHA! I'm not staying in a hotel associated with the conference, which I think is a blessing. Already the tension level in the Marriott is...ridiculous. Frantic job seekers in suits looking harried and giving off stress hormones. Surely there has to be a better way of getting a job!