Friday, August 27, 2004

Past and Future History

Because of various considerations, including an apprehension that some people may object to linking a blog with this title to official UR webpages, I have satrted a new weblog for the UR History grad community with the semi-nonsensical title of Past and Future History at . I will continue to post on this blog for my own shady purposes, and there will be some overlap.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Forgot one. Write in your slogan in the comments. Posted by Hello

Political Campaignomania! I post this button collage for you because I have the softwear to do it and I cannot be stopped. Posted by Hello

This is a high-toned website. Posted by Hello

Back-to-School with Gustave Flaubert!

From the satirical Dictionary of Received Ideas

BOOKS Always too long, whatever the subject.
EDUCATION Create the impression that you have had a good education. The common people need no education to earn their living.
LEARNING Despise it as the sign of a narrow mind.
PROFESSOR Always 'the learned.'
SCHOOLTEACHERS (WOMEN) Are always from good families in reduced circumstances. Dangerous as governesses in the home: seduce the husband.
STUDENTS All wear red berets and tight-fitting trousers, smoke pipes in the streets and never study.

Shouldn't this have a flag?  Posted by Hello

Split Hits Century Mark Amid Public Acclaim!

According to the guidelines set by the American Media Council, I must follow any serious, "downer" topics with an upbeat, "feelgood" spot so that you, the public, can forget all about death, injustice, war crimes, the Swift Boat Veterans, Halliburton, and the Problem of Evil. Therefore—today is the 100th birthday of the Banana Split!

An expert says, "the proper banana split is built on a foundation of a banana sliced stem to stern. The next layer consists of a scoop of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, topped with pineapple pieces, chocolate sauce and strawberry sauce. Then comes the whipped cream, chopped nuts and three cherries—although Greubel's restaurants replace one of the cherries for an American flag." [And rightly so, my friends. —Ed.]

There must be some kind of glitch in the Google search engine, by the way—when I did an "image search" for "banana split" to find an appropriate picture with which to celebrate this historic date, all sorts of pictures of young women wearing nothing but gobs of whipped cream came up. Funny....

Expert on Dying Dies

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the Swiss-born psychiatrist internationally known for her expertise on death and dying, and for bringing the taboo subject of death "out of the closet," as it were, has died at the age of 78.

Of her own death, Kubler-Ross wrote, "Dying is nothing to fear. It can be the most wonderful experience of your life. It all depends on how you have lived. Death is but a transition from this life to another where there is no more pain and anguish. Everything is bearable when there is love. My wish is that you try to give people more love. The only thing that lives forever is love."

Sources close to Kubler-Ross stated that the famed author went through a progression of stages including denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, before coming to this last stage of acceptance.

History Books in the News

Nanking? Comfort women? Never Happened...

TOKYO, Aug. 26 The Chinese Xinhua News service reports that the Tokyo education board has decided to adopt a controversial history textbook for use in public secondary schools next spring. The textbook is "widely regarded as a whitewash and distortion of Japan's invasion history in the World War II." Japan, like the US, has its own history wars raging over the interpretation of the nation's past. As is the case here, this struggle over the meaning of the national past is part of a political struggle for power and control over public policy and the national agenda. Xinhua states that the book's content includes the advocation of "worship to the empire by ushering in mythology and justifying Japan's aggression of Asian nations."

Japan Today: [The textbook] "has added fuel to a fierce domestic debate, and prompted an international chorus of criticism, mainly from China and South Korea, which argue that the nationalistic textbook glosses over Japan's wartime atrocities."

The book has been approved for use in Hakuo High School, formerly a girls' high school. Alumna Mutsuko Miki, the widow of a former Prime Minister, has urged the Tokyo education board not to adopt it. "The textbook, which does not even refer to the issue of 'comfort women,' is not appropriate to Hakuo which has been supported by women." So-called "comfort women" were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers at front-line brothels during WWII--the majority were Korean, but women from Japan itself and other Asian countries were also pressganged into serving the Imperial agenda. "Historians estimate a majority of about 200,000 such women were from the Korean Peninsula, which was then ruled by Japan." (Kyodo News)

The Korean press is also going ballistic over this decision. The Chosun Ilbo online quotes Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Shin Bong-kil: "the textbook is based on a historical perspective of national chauvinism and justifies Japan's historic mistakes."

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Gaudeamus Igitur! Posted by Hello

The Social Gospel Today

Is automated grocery checkout right or wrong? The Social Gospel lives, and its adherents are blogging just such issues.

Autumn in New York!

From the Associated Press today:

GOP Delegates Meet With Anti-Bush Signs
Wed Aug 25, 2:21 AM ET
NEW YORK - In case their discontent isn't already clear, protesters are spelling it out. "Stop Bush Now" signs and other anti-GOP messages are appearing throughout the city well before delegates arrive for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday.

Autumn in New York,
Why does it seem uninviting?
Autumn in New York
Look at those placards they're writing!

Ominous crowds with Abu Ghraib shrouds
In canyons of steel,
They’re making me feel - like a heel.

It’s autumn in New York!
Placards on each subway train,
Rallies in Central Park:
"NO MORE YEARS" is their refrain.

Marchers with angry signs,
Long unemployment lines,
Is it autumn in New York,
Or Chicago over again?

Autumn in New York:
Rooftop signs seen from the plane,
"Cheney is a Dork,"
"Bush Lied, They Died" and words profane.

Yes, jaded pols and media hacks
Who lunch at the Ritz
Will say it's no big deal, but still -

This autumn in New York
Regime change is in the air
Oh, autumn in New York
Taxis to and from Mad Square,

Pass by demos dawn to dark,
Cops and firemen, loud and noisy,
Why did we pick New York?
Next time let's have it in Boise.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Visit the Unofficial Public Shrine!

To visit the virtual Unofficial Public Shrine of the American Civil Religion, click on the following links:

Donations for the upkeep of this Shrine are accepted. Give, and give generously, if you call yourself an American.

Olympic Games History

During the Olympics of 1904, something called "Anthropology Days" was held. On Anthropology Days, 12-13 August 1904, "savages" in native costume from Congolese pygmy tribes, the Phillipines, Patagonia, and various native American tribes, who were barred from regular Olympic games, competed against each other in such non-standard events as mud fighting, rock throwing, greased pole climbing, and spear throwing. "Olympics founder Baron de Coubertin righteously noted that such a charade ‘will of course lose its appeal when black men, red men, and yellow men learn to run, jump, and throw, and leave the white men behind them.'"

See the rest of this story thanks to the History News Network blog.

"The St. Cassian Prayer"

Lord, make me an instrument of your effectiveness.
Where there are patently ridiculous room assignments, let me offer a map of campus cross-indexed by classroom tech level.
Where there are predictable timetable clashes, a red pen.
Where there are underenrolled sections, advance warning.
Where there are impatient students, plausible excuses.
Where there are inept administrators, mass firings.

Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be managed as to manage,
To be advised as to advise,
To be put on hold as to put on hold.
For it is in complaining that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we get absolutely nowhere,
It is in staving off homicidal mania that we are privileged to avoid prosecution.

(Thanks to Naomi Chana who alleges that this "St. Cassian" is the patron saint of schoolmasters. Actual patron saints: of scholars: St. Brigid, of teachers: Sts. Gregory the Great and Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, of colleges and universities: St. Thomas Aquinas, of learning: St. Ambrose, of librarians: St. Jerome, of the mentally ill: St. Dympna. Tuesday is the day of the week liturgically dedicated to All Saints and/or the Faithful Departed, so there may be a weekly Lives of the Saints spot on this blog.)

Thomas Merton Tuesdays

The Asian whose future we are about to decide is either a bad guy or a good guy. If he is a bad guy, he obviously has to be killed. If he is a good guy, he is on our side and he ought to be ready to die for freedom. We will provide an opportunity for him to do so: we will kill him to prevent him falling under the tyranny of a demonic enemy. Thus we not only defend his interests along with our own, but we also protect his virtue along with our own . . .
Words like "pacification" and "liberation" have acquired sinister connotations as war succeeded war. Vietnam has done much to refine and perfect these notions. A "free zone" is now one in which anything that moves is assumed to be "enemy" and can be shot. In order to create a "free zone" that can live up effectively to its name, one must level everything, buildings, vegetation, everything so that one can clearly see everything that moves and shoot it. This has very
interesting semantic consequences.

(Thomas Merton, "War and the Crisis of Language," 1968, published 1969 in The Critique of War: Contemporary Philosophical Explorations, ed. Robert Ginsberg.)

Rochester History Calendar Update!

Sunday, August 29 (late afternoon)
The intrepid medievalist Craig N. will heroically drive, from Western Massachusetts to Rochester NY, a RENTAL TRUCK containing HIS BELONGINGS! "Preposterous," you scoff, "no medievalist has ever done such a deed before."
Until now. Come to marvel, stay to help unload said truck. Pizza and beer will sustain those who stay. Contact S. Dougherty for details at

Monday, August 31
7:00 pm Frontier Field
Next-to-last Rochester Red Wings (AAA) game in series with the godless helots of Pawtucket. S. Dougherty has one extra ticket.

Tuesday, August 31
Orientation for New History Graduate Students
Begins 10:00 am in Rush Rhees 362.

Wednesday, September 1 (not Sept. 2!)
Fall 2004 Semester begins

Saturday, September 18
The History Department's annual Fall Picnic has been scheduled for Saturday, September 18. More details from Helen soon.

Thursday, September 23
Verne Moore Lecture SeriesWelles Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library at 8:00 pm.Thomas Sugrue of the University of Pennsylvania will lecture on "Sweet Land of Liberty: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the North." Sugrue is the author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis (Princeton, 1996), which won the Bancroft Prize in American History, the Philip Taft Prize in Labor History, and several other awards.More on Sugrue:

Brown Bag Seminars
No dates yet---the History Department's seminar series, usually held on one Friday afternoon of each month of the Spring and Fall semesters, features distinguished guest speakers and cutting-edge historical topics.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Handy Electoral College Calculator!

Go to the Electoral College Calculator, plug in the battleground states data from the latest Zogby poll, and see where the candidates are.

Register to Vote, and Be Afraid, and Not Afraid

Not registered to vote in New York? Go to the Monroe County Board of Elections site for application & instructions.

Now see the Diebold Variations, and be frightened. How frightened? Very frightened.

Now see this campaign ad, and be reassured once more. See how blogs can manipulate you? I'm playing you like a Stradivarius.

Sean Guerin's Taken His MA: A Lament

The Grad Rep leaned on a weeping willow
With face upturned to the moon;
The night was dark, the wind did billow
As she sang this mournful tune:

"Alas, alas, I’m all forlorn!
Sean Guerin’s taken his MA.
I would that I had ne'er been born
To see Sean Guerin go away.

From Rubin and Westbrook’s wild assaults
His thesis he defended,
His seven years seem but a waltz
Now that they’re finally ended.

Our swank Gradlounge no more will see
The crumbs from his Fig Newtons,
Nor echo with his punditry
On subjects high-falutin'.

I languish here in dull self-pity;
All pleasures have been banished.
Let not Sean Guerin leave this city
Or joy's forever vanished."

Education in the News!

If you're going to teach, read this NY Times article on student plagiarism and the burgeoning online sale of prewritten papers, complete with such signs of authenticity as run-on sentences, pretentious and incorrect usage, naive literary judgments, and a level of sloppiness that increases towards the paper's end, "mimicking the writing patterns of a tired and confused freshman. Maybe this is the point." Jeepers, who knew? Have fun disinguishing such purchased guff from the maunderings of honest students.

Also from the NYT: Article on the boom in blogging as a classroom teaching tool! Blog on.

Disappearing Smokestack!

The River Campus's power plant is being converted to cogeneration, a cutting-edge process which will produce electricity and steam simultaneously. Electricity and steam will be used to heat and cool River Campus and Medical Center buildings using no more fuel than if only steam was produced. Cogeneration at UR, by reducing reliance on the local electric utility, will lower the quantity of air emissions attributable to University power needs. Professor Morris A. Pierce of the History Dept. has installed a webcam for viewing the ongoing plant conversion, and when I visited the site today the smokestack was half gone!

Gilding the Lily Dept.

Do not click on the above link , and, if you must, do not stoop to the level of "giving George Bush a makeover". There's no excuse for this sort of thing. What a waste of time, too. Why do humorists hate America so much?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

New Grads!

Sara R., Craig N., Pelin K., James H., and Brian S., a hearty welcome to UR (and to the Institute) from your grad rep.

About the Journal of Pissing and Moaning

This is the premier issue of The Journal of Pissing and Moaning, a publication of the Pissing and Moaning Institute. The Institute, a think tank with few rivals and even fewer clients, may be found somewhere on the fourth floor of the University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library, and some members of the UR History graduate student community are believed to be its affiliates. The JPM is intended as a medium for the expression of graduate student opinion, humor and satire, and especially material that students are unable, for reasons of prudence, to promulgate through approved channels such as term papers, theses, and so forth. The JPM will also convey and comment on news of interest to the History graduate student community.

Letters to the Editor, Vol. 1 Number 1



I am simply sickened and disgusted by the way that everything this country stands for is mocked and denigrated in your pages. The Flag, our way of life, the late president Ronald Reagan—it seems these things which are revered by millions of Americans are just targets for your liberal, leftist bile and venom.

Why do you keep harping on the Teapot Dome Scandal and all of the so-called “corruption” of the Harding Administration? This is ancient history and it’s all liberal propaganda anyway and a slur on the legacy of a fine, underrated Republican leader. Have you forgotten that your precious Bill Clinton lied about his filthy adultery under oath? I can’t wait until this administration finally declares martial law and starts putting treason-talking anti-Americans like you in prison.
–Patrick “Nathan Hale” Henry, Marinetti, Ohio

Sir: This is the first issue of The Journal of Pissing and Moaning. There are no previous issues. Take a look at the masthead: Volume ONE, Number ONE. It hasn’t even hit the street yet. We have never denigrated the Flag, our way of life, or the late president Ronald Reagan with “liberal, leftist bile and venom.” Do you simply hurl these boilerplate right-wing accusations at every new periodical that comes out, in the hope that some of them will stick?

”Ancient history,” by the way, denotes the history of events that occurred before the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, i.e. before 476 CE. Harding was elected President in 1920. –Ed.


To the Editor:
As a Europeanist and globalist, I observe with dismay all the emphasis this journal (mis)places on the scandal-tarnished administration of Warren G. Harding. Your Americo-centric and exceptionalist viewpoint is retrograde to the most progressive trends in historiography, and makes for very irksome reading to scholars of my persuasion. Continue on in this vein, and you will soon render an otherwise fine journal completely irrelevant within its own discipline.
–Georgette de Mohrenschildt, Tristan da Cunha.

Oh, give us a chance before you predict our decline into irrelevance, will you please? Read Volume 1, Number 2 of the JPM when it comes out; it will feature a slashing depreciation of the global impact of Ronald Reagan’s geostrategic policies, a diatribe against national flags, and an article on the corruption of American life during the Harding administration through European eyes. Or go stuff off, I don’t care. If you don’t like the kind of journals we publish here in God’s country, go back where you came from. –Ed.


I object in the most strenuous fashion to your making gratuitous use of my name, and to this Journal’s continual aspersions against the integrity of my Administration. I stand behind Mr. Secretary Fall one hundred percent; he is a man of the strictest integrity as I am sure events will prove.
–Warren G. Harding [deceased]

Welcome to the Journal of Pissing and Moaning

Dear History graduate students,

Do you like to piss and moan and bitch? And rant? Do you ever want to express extreme opinions, go off the deep end about some topic, or give rein to your dark, sub-rational side? Perhaps you enjoy making up scurrilous verses or writing prose lampoons about your pet targets. And perhaps you would really enjoy illustrating your screeds with devastatingly appropriate (or inappropriate) pictures pirated off the Internet. It goes without saying that the Editors and contributors of the Journal of Pissing and Moaning have a serious and professional interest in academic history. However, one’s “serious” faculties get a good workout from all the papers that the various luminaries of the History Department compel one to write. Moreover, one generally decides (out of prudence or out of cowardice) to tone down most of one’s more vigorously biased opinions, to delete the unsubstantiated judgments that one nevertheless KNOWS to be correct, and to suppress all the hilarious or even slightly unserious but apposite observations that pop into one’s head while writing about . We have to edit this stuff out, or else some academic Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, is certain to circle it in red and scrawl that it is inappropriate, unbecoming, unseemly, and indicative of insufficient maturity in the writer. “Yes, yes, we know all about that,” you bloviate. “We know the drill, we support our arguments sedulously, we were broken on the wheel of writing seriously and impersonally as undergraduates, we were cured of sophomore levity once and for all by a stinging crimson rebuke, and now a high, dry, and bloodless style has become SECOND NATURE to us.”

No it hasn’t. You lying fakers. You don’t fool THE JOURNAL OF PISSING AND MOANING one bit. The JPM knows better, and is here to intervene between you and your fatal self-delusions before you morph into the hideous mummified carcass of Professor G. Llewellyn Windhorst! So save all the funny stuff that you edit out of your papers, and all your extracurricular observations on ivory tower life viewed from from the graduate gutter. Save it and post it here, at the BLOG of the prestigious Pissing and Moaning Institute (Rush Rhees Library, fourth floor), where it will mingle and mesh with the rest of the Brain Trust’s intellectual effluvia. Here it will find asylum. In more ways than one.

S. Dougherty, editor