Well, that certainly explains the numbness in my arms, the stabbing chest pains, the inexplicable sweating and shortness of breath.
Since everyone else in the world appears to be watching the BCS Championship game with slackened jaws, this might be a good time to admit that until this afternoon, I had never watched a single minute of The Sopranos. I realize that this information — had it been made public a few months back — would probably have disqualified me from participating on this blog. But as Tony Soprano learned in Season 1, Episode 1, it feels good to talk about this. What a great show. What the hell have I been doing with myself for seven years?
(Check in next week as I discover the Don DeLillo’s White Noise, the animated works of Ren and Stimpy, and the first two Modest Mouse albums.)
7-0 on the first play.
Let this serve as a game open thread.
Shortly after Christmas Brian Leiter linked to this Corey Robin essay on Arendt on totalitarianism, and posed a general question about the political relevance of Hannah Arendt’s work. So far, his post has generated no significant responses. I don’t know if this is because of the post’s timing, or general indifference toward Arendt amongst analytical philosophy. Amongst political theorists, rather than political philosophers, Arendt may gather more attention than just about any other political theorist. My own thoughts are too uninformed, banal and conflicted to bother with, except to say that Robin’s contention that “If Arendt matters today, it is because of her writings on imperialism, Zionism and careerism” moves beyond exaggeration into obfuscation. A significant portion of the Arendt industry draws from On Revolution (in particular, developing and contemplating the nascent democratic theory of the book’s last chapter) and The Human Condition (and her theories of action and agency). I find both books much more interesting than On the Origins of Totalitarianism, but even drawing from that work, a good deal of Arendt scholarship draws from her consideration of the problematique of refugees and the “right to have rights” (See, for a strong example, Seyla Benhabib, The Rights of Others). So Rubin’s portrait of the contemporary state of Arendt scholarship is simply inaccurate. But the point of this post is to direct anyone with an interesting opinion on Arendt to head over to Leiter’s blog and comment.
I just returned from Atlanta, a city that is evidently committed to the principle that free wireless connections must not be allowed to take root anywhere. I thought I might be able to sneak in a quick Althousian post addressing the mediocre wardrobe choices that govern the historical profession, but alas . . . not a signal to be found anywhere near Peachtree Center.
My time at the convention was brief and marginal. I didn’t see any panels of great note, and I didn’t spend much time at the book exhibit. Some readers will be pleased to learn that I scored a free hotel room when a 15-year old girl in California — the daughter of a friend’s colleague — broke her ankle, preventing her mother from attending the conference at the last minute. The room, which was being used to conduct interviews, was fantastic. (Best wishes, of course, for a speedy recovery to the clumsy California teen.)
While I was in town, my friend Brett — who runs an amazing blog about pigs — took me on a tour of “Sweet Auburn,” the neighborhood built by black Atlantans after the they were more or less expelled them from the downtown area a hundred years ago. I did manage to see the gravesite of MLK and Coretta Scott King, as well as a sharp exhibit at the MLK National Historical Site on the Atlanta Race Riot, whose centennary year just ended. We dropped by the old Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King himself ministered and where his mother was shot to death in 1974; we saw (but didn’t tour) King’s birth home and the Atlanta Life Insurance company, founded by Alonzo Hendon in 1905; and we politely refused numerous fliers advertising some of Atlanta’s sub-elite gentlemen’s clubs. (Interestingly, one of the guys handing out fliers immediately identified us as historians. “You’re here for that historical convention, aren’t you?” he asked. I don’t know what that insight says — if anything — about Brett and me, or about historians in general, but we didn’t bother to pretend he was wrong. Nevertheless, we passed up offer and went to Daddy D’z that night instead. The barbeque probably took five years off my life, but I have no regrets.)
For all its historical attractions, the Sweet Auburn neighborhood continues to be desperately poor; as these things usually go, parts of Sweet Auburn are being tenderized for the urban gentry. Old buildings have been hollowed out, their antique facades retained to give the soon-to-be-completed condominia the aura of historical legitimacy. I’m not familiar enough with Atlanta’s contemporary political scene to add much more, but it’s always distressing to watch the trouncing of historic urban districts. It’s as if the fragmentary celebration of the past — e.g., here’s King’s birth home, here’s the Odd Fellows’ complex — provides the alibi for the wider neglect of the people who actually live there.
Families earning more than $1 million a year saw their federal tax rates drop more sharply than any group in the country as a result of President Bush’s tax cuts, according to a new Congressional study.
The study, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, also shows that tax rates for middle-income earners edged up in 2004, the most recent year for which data was available, while rates for people at the very top continued to decline.
It’s almost enough to make me lose faith in the intellectual integrity of Glenn Reynolds.
Charlotte Allen using a Young Americans for Freedom list of college courses it doesn’t like to churn out a quick, lame, and uninformed op-ed is a well-worn and extremely tired routine. (Michael Berube‘s new book does a great job with the genre, especially the use of course titles without any discussion of actual course content.) I thought this was kind of a nice contribution to the well-worn genre, though:
At Duke, you can take “American Dreams/American Realities” (No. 11), a history course on American myths such as “a city on a hill.”
So much for Ronald Reagan.
See, Ronald Reagan was saying that the United States is literally a city on a hill, and anyone who questions it as if it was a metaphor has no business indoctrinating tender young minds! (I also enjoyed her description of a course on “Cyberfeminism” as being about the discovery that “women use computers.”)
But what I really enjoy about the column is that Allen–while arguing that universities shouldn’t offer any courses with titles that make prissy, anti-intellectual reactionaries uncomfortable, irrespective of their content–while touting their description as “politically correct.” Needless to say, the person who thinks speech she doesn’t like should be excluded before the fact in this case is Charlotte Allen, not professors who think that race, gender, or class might in some way be relevant to the study of the arts and humanities.
Let’s say you’re a prominent blogger with a well-known shtick of alternating boot-licking Republican hackery with claims that anyone who disagrees with you about anything is excessively “partisan” (usually as a substitute for substantive engagement.) Let’s say that someone making mild fun of said persona posts under your name in a comment section, while linking to their own website in the hyperlink so that nobody with an IQ over 75 (which, admittedly, probably excludes large parts of your regular readership) could think it was actually you posting. You’d just laugh it off, right?
Or, alternatively, you could complain about it in the comment section, complain about it in an email, complain about it in a post on your own blog (with a link to the original comment carefully excluded so nobody can see how foolish your complaint is), and then append an update in which you complain that the “blogger in question, instead of answering my email or being at all decent about it, has indicated strong support for the imposter commenter and thinks the whole thing is just funny, including my objection.” If you did this, you would be (almost) beyond parody.
Sorry for the light blogging; I am furiously rushing to finish a couple of syllabi that I should have finished weeks ago. The problem with winter break is that it ends…
The House of Savoy is one of the oldest noble families in Europe. In 1003, Humbert the White Handed was made Count of Savoy, a mountainous region along the modern French-Italian border, in return for military service. Humbert’s heirs would add slowly to the holdings of Savoy, periodically becoming involved in larger European wars. In 1046 Piedmont was added to the holdings of the House of Savoy, and in 1416, for continued good service to the Emperor, the Counts of Savoy were made Dukes.
In the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries Piedmont became a battleground between France and Spain for influence on the Italian peninsula. The House of Savoy, lacking the capacity to fight either power for very long, was forced to combine periodic military activity with canny diplomacy in order to remain independent. A clever split with France in the War of Spanish Succession allowed the House to consolidate its holdings, and made Vittorio Amedio II the King of Sicily. Finding the Sicilians a bit unruly, King Vittorio exchanged Sicily for Sardinia a few years later. During the French Revolution, the House of Savoy retreated to Sardinia before resuming rulership of their ancestral lands after the Congress of Vienna.
Piedmont was the one of the two most powerful of the Italian states in the 19th century, and was well positioned to take advantage of the Risorgimento. Through deft diplomacy and patient military action Piedmont’s Prime Minister, Conte di Cavour, managed to play off or defeat the French and the Austrians, eventually annexing most of the remaining Italian kingdoms. In retrospect, the unification of Italy must be considered a more difficult diplomatic task than the unification of Germany, given the strength of the Italian players. After only 858 years, Vittorio Emanuele II, House of Savoy, became King of Italy. Along the way, Savoy had acquired claim to the crowns of Armenia, Cyprus, and Jerusalem, the last in reference to the Crusader Kingdom destroyed in the 13th century. The Savoy’s record as Kings of Italy was decidedly mixed, as it witnessed several disastrous colonial adventures, involvement of limited effectiveness in World War I, the rise of Mussolini, and the disastrous Italian intervention in World War II. The penultimate King of Italy was Vittorio Emanuele III. He was overly tolerant of Mussolini, and was driven from the throne after World War II. Power briefly passed to his son, Umberto II, before the monarchy was abolished and the royal family exiled. After the death of Umberto II in 1983, leadership of the House passed to Vittorio Emanuele, who would become Vittorio Emanuele IV if he ever manages to regain the throne.
Sadly, the latest Vittorio Emanuele is no prize. Exiled from Italy in 1946, he has spent most of his life in Switzerland. In 1978 he killed a guy. Responding to the theft of his yacht’s dinghy, he began firing at random passengers on a neighboring yacht, killing Dirk Hamer. For some reason, he received only a six month suspended sentence. In 2002 he formally renounced the crown in exchange for the right to return to Italy, which led monarchists to start favoring the Duke of Aosta. Apparently irritated by this turn of events, Vittorio Emanuele punched the Duke in the face at the wedding of King Juan Carlos’ son. Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, has since claimed the titles of King and Duke of Savoy, as Vittorio Emanuele married without his father’s permission in 1971. Since his return to Italy, Vittorio Emanuele has allegedly spent his time recruiting prostitutes and making friends in the Mafia. This has not, strangely, endeared him to the Italian public. In June the Duke was arrested and subjected to house arrest. Although released a month later, he is now legally prohibited from leaving Italy.
Trivia: In 1993, what colonial power formally apologized for the overthrow of what royal house?
One reason I like football somewhat less than hockey or baseball is that I’ve never been a really big fan of any team. This playoff game, however, is my Maximum Rooting Interest–the team I’d most like to win the Super Bowl against the time I’d least like to win it. So I would have advised you to bet the mortgage on Dallas before I got on the plane if I had time, but I’m happy that I was probably wrong…good that the ref had the balls to overturn that ridiculous spot too.
…Yesh! Although given the quality of Seattle’s secondary I wasn’t counting on anything until the Hail Mary actually hit the turf…
…and a beating-Dallas doubleheader is certainly a nice digestif. As I’ve said countless times, who needs Jarome Iginla when you have the immortal Byron Ritchie?
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