I have a doctorate in not getting facebook

I have not posted in forever. It seems that everyone has moved to facebook. I have an admission--I don't much like facebook. It seems that there is not enough space to put down full ideas, and the communication aspect seems very surface level and clipped. The fact that most use their real names makes it a little daunting, especially when you don;t want to share things when searching for an academic job.

I don't know how to work farmville.

But I need to start writing again. In fact, I'm going to Starbucks to do that right now!

Blah Blah cellphone conversation blah.....

Okay, So I take myself out to an Indian restaurant and some joker with his loud obnoxious disco ringtone and bluetooth starts having long loud obnoxious conversations with three different calls (business and friends). You know the type--30-something, slicked back hair, the whole "I work at a gym or sell suppliments"-esque outfit, the sad need to both look manly, busy and busy being manly..though "listen to my busy-professional and personal life" phonecalls in the middle of the friggin restaurant. I don;t mean the simple--I'm here, or I'll be home at three, or here are the directions to here...but long loud continuous conversations--THREE--none of which were emergencies.

Worse yet, he had a companion (god- I hope not wife--poor thing!) who he said not a word to and who got up and three separate times as he blabbed on to get him and her food. If It was a date...okay..I mean damn.

I wrote a note on my bill saying that patrons' loud cell phone use wrecked an otherwise great meal (earlier there was another lady whose call was so loud I could hear both sides of the conversation about their mutual alcoholic friend). But, in hindsight, I think I should have politely asked after the third call if he would take it outside and let me enjoy my very rare restaurant lunch. Of course then, the whole place could not be enchanted by his ringtone. Plan B was to throw my naan at his over-sized blue-toothed Borg head and remind him of his lovely date currently at his table.

What do you do when this happens? When is the line between -"Quick hello and I'll call you back" sit-down restaurant call and the never-ending water-torture of cell-phone calls?
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Doctor Who?

Haven't posted for eons because I've been flailing to finish the history doc. This is a very weird date to have on one's diploma...however it's official...I just filed my doctorate.



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We the People...the Constitution is BACK!

Dear FORMER President Bush,

Don't let the Constitution hit your ass on the way out.
*     *     *

'As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.'

--Obama inaugural Address

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Cat on a leash!

My furry boy was getting down because of the death of his brother (see icon), so I thought I might try and do something special for him. I bought a cat leash so my 9-year-old son and I could let him explore. I know there is something inherently preposterous about walking a cat, but Harold seems to like the walks, and it is so damn cute!


Full Circle

I used this lecture as a capstone to my U.S. history class looking back on the Civil Rights movement and what Obama might and might not mean.  On this historic day, I post it here.

The Civil Rights Movement:  The Legacy of Memory

            In 2005, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks was laid to rest.  50 years before, Parks had made history in 1955 by refusing to give her seat to a white man on a Montgomery Alabama bus.   Her individual act of civil disobedience triggered a year-long boycott of the bus system that succeeded in de-segregating public transportation throughout the south and propelling Young Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to National prominence.  The United States Congress had, a few days after her death, passed a resolution allowing her body to lie in state in the United Stated Capitol Rotunda –the first woman granted that honor. An estimated 50,000 people viewed the casket there.  Her funeral attracted a crowd of political and cultural luminaries come to celebrate the humble seamstress who had transformed history. 

            In 2007 the Little Rock Nine returned to the campus of Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.  They arrived in Limousines as guests of honor for the celebration of the fifty year anniversary of the schools tumultuous integration.  In 1957 these nine African-American students had received a very different reception. The students were prevented from entering the racially segregated school by a hostile mob. The National guard was called out to stop them from attending classes.  It took President Eisenhower’s dispatching of the 101st Airborne to safely escort the teenagers in the building.   And on the same grounds where Little Rock Nine were once assaulted by an angry mob, statues in their likeness serve as a reminder to their bravery. The school itself is now a National Historic Site.  And, the still-functioning High School’s student body is now 52% Black.  

            Most famously, in 1983 Martin Luther King Jr.’s  birthday was declared a National Holiday.  The Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated is now a museum interpreting the Legacy of the Civil rights movement.

            In previous lectures we have considered this legacy and the tremendous distance the movement traveled to give African Americans the same citizenship rights that whites took for granted.  But I wanted to speak on the legacy that we don't often consider – how the civil right movement presents itself in American memory.

            After the Civil War, Both sides knew very well that the war was about the ending of slavery.  Service in the army gave Blacks an increasing belief that they deserved a stake in society, And the advent of the Radical Republicans showed that many whites wished to make sure the sacrifices in the war were not in vain, By 1877, after the time the protections of Reconstruction was withdrawn, this vision of  the war was slowly replaced in white national memory by romanticized images of mutual sacrifice, the elevation of the white soldier, the glory of the white race, and above all- reconciliation.  The cause of the war, the end of slavery, was lost.

            But when forget the cause of the war, you also lose its meaning.  To forget that slavery was at the very heart of the conflict meant that it was acceptable not to follow up and give African Americans full citizenship, making much of the original sacrifice meaningless.

            Yet, even if whites on both sides of the conflict were willing to forget the Black thread of memory and meaning, the African Americans were not.  Those who lived through the war, and especially the ones who fought in it, never allowed the black memories to dim.  They survived not in the erection of statues but in the stories of the elder generation who could still remember the times “when Blacks held office.”  the submerged black memories resurfaced in the mid-20th century, creating the legislative, emotional and spiritual basis for the Civil rights movement.  And a new generation of activists who demanded that the promise of the Civil War and Reconstruction finally be fulfilled.  And as we saw, African Americans would win many of these battles.

             Since the 1990s, the slave narratives of the Civil War, the African-American experiences, have been largely re-woven into the national narrative  It has been done through the movies, the history books, the museums, the statues, the Martin Luther King Boulevard's, the Rosa Parks parks.  But memory is always a function of the present, And these memories have created another set of issues. 

            To celebrate a holiday gives us a false sense that a movement is complete, that there is nothing left to accomplish.   But let us look for a moment not only at the distance traveled, but the road left to go.  Central high was successfully integrated. While Central may be 52% Black, almost all students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes are white.

             Throughout the country, Inequality remains. No where is that more clear than in our ever expanding prison system.            In today's nation, African-Americans are literally more likely to go to jail than to college.  People of color are sentenced in grotesque disproportion to their population ratio.  If current trends continue, only 15 years remain before the US incarcerates as many African-American men as were forced into bondage at slavery's peak.    This situation is too often framed as a law and order issue.  It can and must be framed as a continuing struggle of the civil rights movement.

             And another irony.  By turning anyone into the object of a national holiday, we strip them of their humanity and turn them into a God.  Children learning about Martin Luther King today see him as a black Santa Claus figure, forgetting that in his time some found his vision of racial equality so threatening that the FBI director once called King ‘the most dangerous man in America.’  We also raise him up so high that we think that his actions are beyond the pale of human possibility. We risk convincing ourselves that we could never emulate him by community organizing, by volunteering, by daring to dream, or even doing something as simple and essential as voting.

             I would be remiss if I did not mention the historical significance of having an African-American candidate for president this year.  His candidacy will not abolish racism in America,  nor would his victory mean that the Civil right movement is complete. What Obama’s candidacy does mean, however, is that exactly 200 years after the slave trade was abolished in America, that same nation may elect a Black Man to its highest office.  And there could be no greater expression of the tumultuous, complicated and remarkable history of Race in the History of these United States.

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memories of William, my big fat gentle cat (1996-2008)

I apologize for not updating in so long! I am teaching the class from hell and have not had time to think. But I'm making time for a memorial for my dear sweet William the Conqueror who passed away this morning. He was a big sweet teddy bear cat, not very bright, but the dearest pal ever since I adopted him and his brother from a shelter in early 1998. I was only looking for one cat, but these two were adult siblings, and I could not resist.

I just want to encourage people to consider adopting an adult cat from a shelter (as they are harder to place) and because you know right off the bat that you've got a great friend.

Also, I wanted to warn those of you with cats--don't over vaccinate your senior low-risk cat. My cat was healthy, had almost no contact with other cats, and yet I was told to vaccinate every year. As it turns out, that is increasingly dangerous if they have had multiple shots over their lifetime. William got a "Vaccine-induced sarcoma" which can be removed, but always come back. They are becoming increasingly common. If I would have known there was any risk, I would have just kept them inside, and I (and his brother) would have our dear sweet Willstams still.

God, did I cry today!

Hope you are happy in heaven big orange guy!
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