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Sexism is Dead

[ 138 ] January 28, 2014 |

Worth remembering 10 years later how the wardrobe incident at the Super Bowl halftime show effectively ended Janet Jackson’s career with zero repercussions for Justin Timberlake.


[ 88 ] January 28, 2014 |

This spring, I am teaching a graduate seminar on the Environmental History of the Americas. Since I know how much extra time everyone has, I thought I’d post the readings so that people can read along if they wish. I hope it is enough reading for everyone. I can always assign more.

February 4—William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England
Brian Donahue, The Great Meadow: Farmers and the Land in Colonial Concord

February 11—Cynthia Radding, Landscapes of Power and Identity: Comparative Histories in the Sonoran Desert and Forests of Amazonia from Colony to Republic.

February 18—John McNeill, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914
Elizabeth Fenn, “Biological Warfare in Eighteenth-Century North America,” Journal of American History March 2000

February 25—Linda Nash, Inescapable Ecologies: A History of Environment, Disease, and Knowledge.
Gregg Mitman, “Geographies of Hope: Mining the Frontiers of Health in Denver and Beyond, 1870-1965, Osiris 2004

March 4—Thomas Andrews, Killing for Coal: American’s Deadliest Labor War
Stefania Barca, “Laboring the Earth: Transnational Reflections on the Environmental History of Work,” Environmental History January 2014

March 18—James Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

March 25—Raymond Craib, Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes
Neil Safier, “The Confines of the Colony: Boundaries, Ethnographic Landscapes, and Imperial Cartography in Iberoamerica,” in James Akerman, ed., The Imperial Map: Cartography and the Mastery of Empire

April 1—Marsha Weisiger, Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country
Paul Rosier, “’Modern America Desperately Needs to Listen’: The Emerging Indian in an Age of Environmental Crisis,” Journal of American History December 2013

April 8—Emily Waklid, Revolutionary Parks: Conservation, Social Justice, and Mexico’s National Parks, 1910-1940
Mark David Spence, “Crown of the Continent, Backbone of the World: The American Wilderness Ideal and Blackfeet Exclusion from Glacier National Park,” Environmental History July 1996

April 15—James Morton Turner, The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964

April 22—John Soluri, Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States
Edward Melillo, “The First Green Revolution: Debt Peonage and the Making of the Nitrogen Fertilizer Trade, 1840-1930,” American Historical Review 2012

April 29—Mark Carey, In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society
Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses” Critical Inquiry Winter 2009

Enough reading for you?

Unionize the NCAA

[ 62 ] January 28, 2014 |


For the first time in the history of college sports, athletes are asking to be represented by a labor union, taking formal steps on Tuesday to begin the process of being recognized as employees, ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” has learned.

Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, filed a petition in Chicago on behalf of football players at Northwestern University, submitting the form at the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board.

Backed by the United Steelworkers union, Huma also filed union cards signed by an undisclosed number of Northwestern players with the NLRB — the federal statutory body that recognizes groups that seek collective bargaining rights.

“This is about finally giving college athletes a seat at the table,” said Huma, a former UCLA linebacker, who created the NCPA as an advocacy group in 2001. “Athletes deserve an equal voice when it comes to their physical, academic and financial protections.”

Huma told “Outside The Lines” that the move to unionize players at Northwestern started with quarterback Kain Colter, who reached out to him last spring and asked for help in giving athletes representation in their effort to improve the conditions under which they play NCAA sports. Colter became a leading voice in regular NCPA-organized conference calls among players from around the country.

Now this is a story worth following. Given the difficulty graduate student unions have had in getting universities to admit they are employees, I think this is going to be an even harder struggle for athletes since they aren’t even paid, but I wish them the best of luck.

What is Stephen Glass Doing Today?

[ 82 ] January 27, 2014 |

Getting rejected by the state of California in his application to practice law (PDF), largely because he has never really come clean about his actions with The New Republic, even well over a decade later.

Via Roger Ailes, who points out that Marty Peretz thinks Glass is a good dude.

Honestly, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. Glass, not Peretz. No one should feel sorry for Peretz.

The Worst Talking Head in Sports History

[ 78 ] January 27, 2014 |

Sometimes one image does indeed tell a whole story.

A Little More Austerity Would Encourage Those Slacker Veterans to Pull Their Bootstraps Up Harder

[ 70 ] January 27, 2014 |

America, 2014. A nation where working age people now are the majority of food stamp recipients. I see no alternative other than cutting food stamps to get these lazy welfare cheats off the government teat and back where they belong–homeless and hungry. Take this person:

The newer food stamp recipients include Maggie Barcellano, 25, of Austin, Texas. A high school graduate, she enrolled in college but didn’t complete her nursing degree after she could no longer afford the tuition.

Hoping to boost her credentials, she went through emergency medical technician training with the Army National Guard last year but was unable to find work as a paramedic because of the additional certification and fees required. Barcellano, now the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, finally took a job as a home health aide, working six days a week at $10 an hour. Struggling with the low income, she recently applied for food stamps with the help of the nonprofit Any Baby Can, to help save up for paramedic training.

“It’s devastating,” Barcellano said. “When I left for the Army I was so motivated, thinking I was creating a situation where I could give my daughter what I know she deserves. But when I came back and basically found myself in the same situation, it was like it was all for naught.”

What has she done for this nation? And only working 6 days a week? If she had any motivation, she’d work at least 7. Maybe 8 or 9. That’s what the makers do. That and be born rich, white, privileged, and probably male, use their status to get into the best colleges, join the investment firm where their frat brother’s dad is a partner, and rig the political game through enormous and increasingly unregulated political donations to place more wealth in their Cayman Island bank accounts.

Film Blog (V)

[ 41 ] January 26, 2014 |

Another set of reviews from my mediocre film blog. Waste time discussing as you like. Films since the last update:

Navy Blue Days, Pembroke and Rock, 1925–Stan Laurel running around a Latin American port looking for lovin’.

Fooling Casper, Montgomery, 1928–Lame adaptation of a popular comic strip of the era.

Her, Jonze, 2013–Brilliant. I liked this so much. Choke me with that dead cat.

The Battle of San Pietro, Huston, 1945–Arguably the greatest war documentary ever made.

American Hustle, Russell, 2013–The definition of entertainment, even if the plot was pretty messy. And of course, awesome fashion.

Two-Lane Blacktop, Hellman, 1971–Men. Car. Road. Hear me roar.

The King of Marvin Gardens, Rafelson, 1972–Did not like this much at all.

The Future, July, 2011–July has talent but I mostly didn’t like this film.

On the Edge, Yau, 2006–Very solid Hong Kong gangster/cop film.

Argo, Affleck, 2012–A very solid political thriller. Worthy of Best Picture? Not sure about that. But good.

Inside Llewyn Davis, Coen and Coen, 2013–Minor Coen. Good enough for a night out, but minor. Cat got robbed for Best Actor nomination.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, Kaufman, 1972–Stoned hippie western does Jesse James. Duvall overacts. Cliff Robertson looks like a good hippie sex symbol. Meh.

Foxy Brown, Hill, 1974–It is what it is. Good entertainment. Good movie? Maybe not. Pam Grier could bring it though.

Amour, Haneke, 2012–When Haneke isn’t trying to be a nihilist, he’s a pretty fine filmmaker.

World War I

[ 338 ] January 26, 2014 |

As we reach the centennial of World War I’s commencement, it’s hard for me to see it as anything but one of the stupidest events in modern history. And I use the word “stupid” with great intention, as the lead-up to the war after Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the alliance system, the militarism, the egos, the ramped up belief in the relationship between masculinity and war (which is not addressed in the linked essay but which was a huge factor at least in Britain and Germany, and later in the U.S.), all of it contributed to a mere 16 million deaths in 4 years for no good reason at all.

Saturday Night Opossum Blogging

[ 120 ] January 25, 2014 |

I used to think opossums were kind of nasty. It’s not their fault, they are just kind of ugly. Then I was walking on the campus of the University of Texas at night. I was walking on a little pedestrian bridge over a creek and there were a couple in the creek below. I watched them for like 5 minutes and realized how cool they actually are. Totally changed my perspective on them.

And of course, edible.

China Solar

[ 23 ] January 25, 2014 |

While we all know of the environmental disaster that is China and the huge problems the Chinese government has had in managing that pollution, especially given the emphasis it places on economic growth and the control local party officials have over these matters in the their localities, it’s also true that China is eating our lunch when it comes to promoting solar power and getting facilities installed. Whether this happens fast enough to mitigate China’s enormous impact upon climate change, well I’m skeptical. But unlike the United States, the Chinese government also sees the necessity to transitioning to renewables.

Plutocrat Fears of the New Gilded Age

[ 162 ] January 25, 2014 |

Back in the Gilded Age, every strike, every worker movement, every bit of organizing was seen by the plutocrats as the coming of a revolution that would kill them all. See the response to the Tompkins Square unemployment marches, which the rich saw as the Paris Commune coming to America. Similarly, with every funeral, every note of music, every coming of the night, slave owners fretted about their human property rising up and killing them all, turning South Carolina into Haiti. That’s what I thought of when I read this letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal:

Regarding your editorial “Censors on Campus” (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

Tom Perkins

Perkins is a cofounder of this venture capital firm.

I suppose we could take this as positive, that a few fast food workers demanding $15 are actually scaring the plutocracy. But I don’t see it that way. They are so secure in their position that they have the luxury of freaking out over each cent or right the poor demand from their betters.

….Our lovely plutocrat Mr. Perkins was once convicted of involuntary manslaughter in France for killing a man after running over another boat while yacht racing.

Lonnie Holley

[ 12 ] January 24, 2014 |

I saw Lonnie Holley open for Bill Callahan in October. I had never heard of him before. I looked him up and found out he was some kind of artist but that’s it. So I appreciated this long profile of him. He was great live. It’s pretty weird but totally mesmerizing. Cool stuff. This video includes a bunch of his art and his style of only playing the black keys.

And for good measure, the best song off the new Callahan album.

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