Wellyopolis

December 26, 2004

When winter would kill you

Happy Boxing Day*.

Amongst the reading I've enjoyed on this beautifully sunny and indolent day is this City Pages article on how cruel winter used to be before gas heating and polypropelene and other wonders of our age. In many ways a catalog of the cruel, painful ways you could die in the 19th century winter, it still left me interested in reading more about the topic ...

*Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. At least in Canada, Australia, NZ and Britain it was traditionally the day you left a gift out for the milkman (does anyone still get home milk delivery?), the mailman, and the rubbish man (=trash collector). Or, since it has now become a holiday itself when you don't get those services, you leave the gift out on the 27th.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:01 PM

December 23, 2004

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

Posting will be light until after New Year. Enjoy the holidays. Eat well. Give generously. Receive generously.

Posted by robe0419 at 2:29 PM

December 21, 2004

Pavlova

Christmas in New Zealand often has a pavlova accompanying the meal. It's a light, sweet meringue dish that complements the heavy, alcoholic fruit cake nicely.

Pavlova recipe
Ingredients
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups caster sugar (a.k.a. ultra fine or bakers sugar)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon cornflour (=cornstarch)

Topping: 1 cup whipping cream
Fruit (Kiwifruit, mandarin slices, and berry fruit are common. Kiwifruit with berries can be used for Christmas colours)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Using electric mixer beat egg whites and sugar for 10 minutes, or until thick and glossy.
Mix vanilla, vinegar and cornflour together. Add to meringue, and beat on high speed for another 5 minutes.
Line oven tray with baking paper. Draw a 20cm (=8in) circle on baking paper (Use the bottom of an 8 inch cake pan). Spread pavlova mixture to the edge of this circle, keeping the shape as round and as even as possible. Push the sides up and then smooth the top over. Place pavlova in oven, and turn oven temperature down to 100C (212F). Bake pavlova for one hour. Turn oven off. Open oven door slightly, and leave pavlova in until cold. Carefully remove pavlova from paper. If the pavlova does not come off, cut the edges of the paper and then transfer the pavlova to a plate with the paper lining on the bottom. Be sure not to serve the paper when you serve the pavlova.

Decorate the top with whipped cream. You can use the cream to cover over any cracks in the surface. Cover with fresh fruit.

Choose firm kiwifruit. You can peel them with a carrot peeler. Slice thinly and arrange on top of the cream. The first slice at either end will not have the white center with the seeds surrounding it, so you may choose to leave this off the decoration.

Merry Christmas!

Historical note: The pavlova was named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, pictured below, who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The precise dating of the name "pavlova" being applied to the meringue like dish were long disputed, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming they honored Ms. Pavlova first. Recent research tends to indicate the first usage was in New Zealand.

NB: The pavlova is not related to the Turkish model Arzu Pavlova whose dancing appears to be more, ummm, "modern," shall we say. Let's just say that if you turn on "Safe Search" in Google you'll get plenty of images of Anna Pavlova, and not so many of Arzu. I've "researched" this, so you don't have to.


Posted by robe0419 at 4:51 PM

Christmas crackers

Among the things largely lacking in America at Christmas is the Christmas cracker

a small cardboard tube covered in a brightly coloured twist of paper. When the cracker is 'pulled' by two people, each holding one end of the twisted paper, the friction creates a small explosive 'pop' produced by a narrow strip of chemically impregnated paper. The cardboard tube tumbles a bright paper hat, a small gift, a balloon and a motto or joke.
Joy of joys, we found some at Williams Sonoma today. They're not available online from Williams Sonoma, but the English Tea Store appears to be the place to get reasonably priced ones in America.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:24 PM

December 20, 2004

Conservatives in academe

Taking up on last week's discussion of the suffering pseudonymous conservative in the classics department, William Pilger, I want to explore another angle.

Let's take Prof. Pilger at his word. It's likely true that the faculty in many university and college departments tends to vote Democratic. And it's also true that faculty occasionally lunch together as described in this heart-rending scene:

A couple of days later, during the Republican National Convention, I ate lunch with several colleagues. The discussion turned, inevitably, to politics. The anti-Republican tenor at the table remained unbroken, but reached its zenith with this vehement comment from one colleague, "I'm not even going to watch [the convention]. I can't stand it."

The contrived controversy over conservatives in academia has focused on the supposed effects in the classroom, but what about its effects in the faculty club?

Nearly sixty years ago in 1948 the Cornell sociologist William Foote Whyte published a book, Human Relations in the Restaurant Industry that described and analyzed Whyte's observations of the everyday work life of waitresses and cooks in Chicago restaurants.

Whyte had trained at Chicago in the heyday of the Chicago sociology's empirical approach to research, and the book received decidedly mixed reviews. Some reviewers saw it as aimed only at the narrow audience of restaurant supervisors and managers; others saw the connection between Whyte's work and the pioneering work in the field of observing workers at work: Roethlisberger and Dickson's Management and the Worker but none of that book's insights, and some others saw a powerful example of the value of basic observational research for studying how people got on at work.

In any case, time has smiled more kindly on Whyte's book than the initial reviews. Through the 1950s the human relations approach to studying the relationship of people within organizations was dominant. Among its insights -- which now may seem commonplace -- were two that have special relevance for understanding Prof. Pilger's plight.


  • Formal organizational structure does not determine behavior or relationships within a group
  • Relationships and views from outside the workplace can have a substantial impact on relationships in the work group.

As I say, nothing too profound there. But the human relations school overturned the inter-war received wisdom influenced by Frederick Taylor that viewed workers as elements in a system, rather than complex things that brought their problems, motivations, and ideals in from the outside.

The human relations school waned after the 1950s with a shift back towards understanding organizational structures, the prevailing social scientific move to quantification, and a move away from observation and intensive interviewing to questionnaires and mass interviewing.

If any setting would benefit from a study based on the human relations approach it would be academic departments. The number of people to be observed is on the scale of the restaurant or the hospital ward or the department in a store. And while we know casually that academic departments have hierarchies and relationships that exist way beyond any organizational chart, something beyond a David Lodge novel is needed to understand them.

A "Human Relations in an Academic Department" study would probably find that tenure -- a formal, organizational rule if ever there was one -- allows the otherwise socially marginalized a foothold in the power structure of departments not available to the outsider amongst the waitresses.

Moreover, the success of an academic department depends somewhat less on the co-operation of its members than a restaurant. Major divisions between the cooks and the waitresses, and pretty soon there will be poor service and spoiled food. But an academic department can more easily separate its fractious members -- X and Y will never be asked to teach the first year survey together, for example -- and so long as their individual research and teaching is adequate the department will survive.

Which is to say that within a workplace the individual eccentricities can have a big impact on how the place works, but comparing workplaces the formal rules will still be seen to matter.

The bottom line for Prof. Pilger is, be nice to your colleagues. Once you have tenure, you can break out a little. And if you think you're hard done by, try waiting tables.

UPDATE Just to confirm the relevancy of tenure. Robert "KC" Johnson at Cliopatria discusses a breaking case where an apparently great scholar and teacher is being denied tenure for being "uncollegial." In other words, the wait staff don't like the new water boy and can vote to kick him out.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:09 AM

December 18, 2004

Grading advice

Fontana Labs at Unfogged is live blogging grading.

The coincidence of fall semester finals with the imminence of Christmas has always seemed so cruel to me. Luckily I'm a research assistant ...

Other options to avoid mid-December grading include moving to the southern hemisphere where it's all over by mid-November, or moving to Harvard where finals are in January ... your choice.

In any case ... here are some things that worked for me when doing pre-Christmas grading


  • Alternate grading a couple of exams with writing Christmas cards. It keeps you sane about both things. Mistaking exams for cards will make you popular with students; the converse will make you unpopular with your family and friends.
  • Red wine is acceptable to make grading a merrier activity. Beer seems to indicate desperation ... But to each their own.
  • Remember, they've already done their evaluations ...

Merry Christmas and Happy Grading.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:20 PM

December 17, 2004

The holidays you have when you don't have holidays

With Christmas Day falling on a Saturday this year, the irony of calling this the "holiday season" (can't offend anyone by calling it Christmas) is high. Many people won't get any more holiday than the weekend they would already get.

In the Antipodes where it's summer, the week between Christmas and New Year is pretty much off work for anyone not working in a service occupation. It's nice, but it is summer, there is more fun to be had. Especially if we continue to have no snow here ...

Posted by robe0419 at 12:23 PM

Wedding registries

As much as I can tell from 20 minutes 'work' on google and e-mail with ex-pat New Zealanders living there, they don't really have wedding registries in Britain.*

It would be nice for me if they did, since it would save some time and effort, but my question to you, dear readers (Sharon? anyone?) is "Why?" Or, better yet, please tell me that I'm wrong and point me to British sites where I can type in the first three letters of the bride and groom's names and the date of the nuptials ...

UPDATE: Always define your terms. A "wedding registry," as the term is used in the U.S. means a registry of the gifts the couple would be happy to receive from guests. Social etiquette prescribes that the couple not inform the guests of where they are registered, but the brides mother is often a helpful source of the information. Nowadays with the magic internet the wedding registry business has moved online, so that you can go to Amazon or home goods stores, type in the name of the bride and groom, and find what they want.

Indeed, the UK Amazon site has no "Wedding Registry" link, while the American one does.

*Not sure if they do in NZ. Before I left I had been to just one wedding. Such are the social realities of a median age at first marriage racing towards 28 (F) and 30 (M).

Posted by robe0419 at 12:18 PM

Academic identity politics

Book review: done. Wireless network: still down ...

Anyway, a reader comments:


I'd also like to argue against one small point in "Academic Identity Politics":

"he's teaching classics. How often does (or should) discussion of contemporary politics come up?? "

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the current value of classics as a discipline. In the original piece, Pilger describes exactly what he does in the classroom when making a classical work accessible to students now. As a comparative lit PhD with a classics background, I also make all kinds of references to contemporary events when discussing classical works with my students. And anyone who knows the roots of the words "discussion," "contemporary," and "politics," not to mention "Democrat" and "Republican," knows that the language, culture, and political forms of the classical Greek and Roman world remain very much a part of the fabric of today's world.

I stand corrected on how often contemporary politics will come up in the classics classroom.

You should be able to bring up discussion of current politics without that degenerating into a partisan discussion. There is the old standby of breaking students into small groups to come up with a joint argument. There is the technique of setting out the arguments for and against on the board. In short, if a topic is controversial and potentially partisan you want to separate the students from their own opinions. Make them argue the opposite of what they believe. Have them focus on small parts of the argument. Don't ask them whether events are right or wrong -- ask them how those events came to be. As a teacher you need to, from the start of class, be seen to argue both sides of issues so that students don't know your own political opinions, or at least can see that whatever your bumper sticker says, you don't bring that into the classroom.

... Right, onto the next book to review ...

Posted by robe0419 at 11:21 AM

December 15, 2004

Merle & Earl

In a totally downbeat piece in the LA Times about Democratic prospects in the South we do learn this: the doyens of Southern psephology, Merle Black and Earl Black, are brothers.

Merle is famous enough to be the first Google entry you come to. His brother loses to an online tea retailer.

Something meaningful must come of that, surely.

Posted by robe0419 at 6:06 PM

Academic identity politics

The recent proliferation of stories like this one in the Chronicle about how Republicans suffer so in academia are fascinating as a study in how stories take on a life of their own. There is much here for some future historian of the politics of higher education.

Why now?This discussion doesn't seem to have been sparked by more than a couple of exit polls from the recent election, now augmented by tales of woe from Republican assistant professors (on which more later).

I think it's pretty clear that the Democratic lean of the professoriate is much higher than in the 1950s, but really, it's important to know if 2004 was that much different than 2000 or 1996; in other words if this is a real problem it would be helpful if the change could be dated so we know what it might be related to.

If the Democratic lean of faculty is related to long-term structural change in higher education (decline of tenure, increased participation by women and minorities) that's something different from faculty voting preferences attributable to who is President.

And as I've said before, it's not all about ideology. Democratic support for funding higher education has been stronger in the last couple of decades.

Many of the stories of partisan oppression don't demonstrate what they set out to

Take the Chronicle story, for example by the pseudonymous William Pilger.

"During an "Introduction to Political Science" class, for example, I was required to write paper on how to solve global warming. My paper suggested that perhaps there was no reason to, since the scientific evidence was inconclusive. I got a D."

Well, if you don't follow the requirements of the paper you probably deserve a D. In some papers students do get a chance to take their own position and argue it. Yet there is real intellectual value in being required to argue a position that you don't agree with. A real conservative intellectual would know that, and write the paper as requested.

This, of course, goes both ways. I don't expect students to agree with John Calhoun about nullification, but it would be a fine assignment to get them to write a paper supporting him.

In another class, I fell victim to my own indignation at having to use inclusive language in my papers. Flexing the muscle of my perceived linguistic superiority -- the masculine third-person singular pronoun across many languages functions as the generic, genderless third person, after all -- I argued that "he" should be in and "s/he" should be out. Another D paper.

Seemingly more damning. But if he thought the D was just for "he" instead of "s/he" why didn't he complain about the grade. In fact, the absence of a story about a grade appeal which was turned down, is evidence that the paper must have had other faults. Because if the grade appeal was turned down that would be even stronger evidence of bias in the academy.

With ample practice over the years -- and after several naÔve attempts to present myself as an enlightened conservative ended in rejection letters ... William Pilger is the pseudonym of an assistant professor of classics at a university in the South.

Classics! Why is "William Pilger" even letting his present-day, 2000-years later views on politics be known to his colleagues?

I had finally pushed the right button to get a reaction, but not the right button to encourage discussion. The students objected en masse to the political nature of the question. So I gave a cursory sketch of two opposite ways one might relate the Aeneid to Iraq, and moved on.

After class, I asked one of the students for his read on what had happened. How could the response be so heated but the question left unengaged? He replied: "You know how it is. Students don't want to disagree with their professors. Most of the students around here are pretty conservative, but they get the strong sense that their professors are liberal. And on issues like these, they're afraid to disagree." They had made assumptions about how I would think and were reluctant to contradict me.


One student. Who happens to agree with the professor. How convenient. Perhaps "William Pilger's" students are different, but it's difficult to get students to speak on any issue. Students are often reluctant to speak, not because they don't want to contradict the professor/instructor, but because they feel their own thoughts are not well thought out.

The interaction with colleagues Prof. Pilger cites is also just a little less supportive of the thesis than he thinks. For example:

A couple of days later, during the Republican National Convention, I ate lunch with several colleagues. The discussion turned, inevitably, to politics. The anti-Republican tenor at the table remained unbroken, but reached its zenith with this vehement comment from one colleague, "I'm not even going to watch [the convention]. I can't stand it."

I could no longer blame the students for shying away from hot-button issues like Iraq: For them, the academy does not foster thoughtful discussion of thorny issues, but harbors the potential at any time to unleash the visceral reactions of their superiors to what students think are their own reasoned political positions. For students, the risk of speaking up is much the same as it is for me: They risk losing the respect of professors and perhaps endangering their long-term aspirations.


"I can't stand it" My, <sarcasm>that strongly worded difference of opinion would be enough to make me feel out-of-place.</sarcasm>

Prof. Pilger if s/he exists is teaching classics. There's little to no sense in which what he's teaching has any connection with present day partisan American politics. His colleagues disagreement with him about things that happen today has little relation to their views on the classical past.

Notice also how Prof. Pilger cites the faculty discussion at lunch in support of his argument that students feel cowed by faculty views. Really? Were there students present at lunch? Faculty are as entitled as construction workers to be opinionated and boisterous in their opinions over lunch. It says little about what they do in the classroom where different conventions apply.

Prof. Pilger's argument would be stronger if he could point to one of his colleagues actually browbeating students into thinking something about politics. But again, he's teaching classics. How often does (or should) discussion of contemporary politics come up??

That Prof. Pilger is silent on this more direct source of evidence about how faculty views affect college life says he couldn't find better evidence.

So, at most we have evidence that some faculty express pro-Democratic positions over lunch, and no evidence at all that faculty in Prof. Pilger's department take their positions into the classroom.

Posted by robe0419 at 5:22 PM

More on atheism

As Matthew Yglesias says, nothing, absolutely nothing in Antony Flew's possible conception of God makes any difference to how we should act in the here and now.

Indeed, these articles suggests that Flew's position has been mistaken and he remains an atheist.

The whole thing is an amusing illustration of what can happen when octogenerian philosophers encounter the internet.

Posted by robe0419 at 9:14 AM

More on atheism

As Matthew Yglesias says, nothing, absolutely nothing in Antony Flew's possible conception of God makes any difference to how we should act in the here and now.

Indeed, these articles suggests that Flew's position has been mistaken and he remains an atheist.

The whole thing is an amusing illustration of what happens when octogenerian scholars encounter the internet.

Posted by robe0419 at 9:13 AM

Markets in classes

When I took Economics 101 with Jerry Mushin in 1993 there were 900 students distributed over 3 lectures. To get into your assigned lecture you had to have a colour-coded sticker.

Rather than bother with swapping stickers between students Jerry encouraged students unhappy with their lecture time to trade stickers, and reminded us that if you had to pay for the colour you wanted that was just economics in action.

That, I suppose, is the difference between law school and the economics department.

Posted by robe0419 at 8:57 AM

Stamping out Christmas abroad

If the US Postal Service stamps are any indication Americans don't send many Christmas cards abroad.

That's right. The only Christmas -- sorry, holiday -- stamps are 37c ones.

Don't get me wrong, Denali/Mount McKinley is a lovely mountain but it has adorned the 80c stamp since the middle of the year 2000 -- all the time I have been in the country. It would be nice to send Christmas cards overseas with an appropriately themed stamp without having to pay 31 cents extra (37 x 3 - 80) for the privilege.

If other civilized countries post offices' can produce stamps for international mail, why not the humble USPS?

Posted by robe0419 at 8:48 AM

December 14, 2004

William Stroker

The Nigerian spam is always worth reading for a bit of a laugh. Today's entry in this genre was particularly good. The unfortunately named William Stroker wrote to me. Despite his time in the UK, Mr. Stroker appears to be unaware of the alternative meanings of the diminutive forms of his name.

I am Mr. Willie Stroker the Financial Director with Standard Trust Security and Finance here in the UK. I was the accounting officer of late Mr. Larry a national of your country, who was a contractor here in UK. On the 21st of April 2000, my client, his wife and their only son were involved in a car
accident along Manchester Diagonal.
It's also a bit of a mystery to me where the very sad accident occurred, since there is no road in Manchester known by this name. Be that as it may, readers who wish to take Mr Stroker up on his offer can e-mail him at williestroker178@netscape.net.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:38 PM

Shopping your politics (again)

Via Crooked Timber a Chicago Tribune article that looks at a new site for people interested in buying from Democrat-donating companies: Choose the Blue.

Now you can find out which tobacco companies prefer Democrats

For these actions to work you really have to let companies know why you're shopping elsewhere. A polite letter would do the trick.

The recent Civil Unions campaign in New Zealand had this very nifty e-mail generator that asked you a set of questions about your demographic profile and political leanings, and then generated a customized letter to send to MPs. That kind of thing -- more personal than the standard mass letter, less effort than writing it yourself -- is what these sites need to have to take the message one step further.

Poking round Choose the Blue reveals some interesting patterns of donations by industry.

It's no surprise that workshop equipment manufacturers give so strongly to Republicans, but why is it that the Bed, Bath and Kitchen industry donates to Democrats while Home Furnishings give to Republicans?

Other mysteries: Why is Progressive one of two auto insurance companies to donate to Democrats. Should Democrats tout the fact that employees of the National Enquirer and Weekly World News overwhelmingly gave to the Democratic party?

Posted by robe0419 at 1:37 PM

Shooting pigeons or running 100 miles?

Arthur Lydiard -- who died on Saturday -- was an advocate of running 100 miles a week in the build-up phase of training.

Following his death some people are planning to run 100 miles in the next week as a tribute. Other people think that's "meaningless."

The final word on the subject must be: " ... it actually makes more sense than 21 soldiers firing at pigeons in the sky at a president's funeral."

Posted by robe0419 at 12:55 PM

The better shoe polish

Kiwi Shoe Polish is re-inventing itself. The name originates from the Scottish-born, Australian-dwelling inventor's New Zealand wife. It's not clear if this was actually her name. It's possible. There was a bit of a phase of European settlers naming girls after the local flora and fauna in the early twentieth century (eg. Ngaio Marsh).

So that explains the boot polish.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:27 PM

An atheists Christmas

As Kriston Capps says "I really love that we have Christmas, so [theism is] not all bad."

Quite so! And if an atheist can enjoy Christmas -- it's a commercial celebration of goodwill, Thanksgiving with presents -- then so can anyone.

I've always found the hesitation to publicly acknowledge that it's Christmas pretty funny. Is this an old-school upper-Midwestern/Yankee reserve about acknowledging faith? I can understand public organizations not using the "C word," but private companies? That makes less sense.

The best explanation will win a pavlova -- a traditional New Zealand Christmas dish. (Traditional in the sense that it's been done since the 1930s).

Posted by robe0419 at 12:07 PM

December 13, 2004

Just in time for Christmas too!

Famous atheist (fame is all relative, right?) Antony Flew now apparently believes in some form of limited God:

"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins."

A quote that will no doubt start a highly profitable tour of U.S. mega-churches.

All in all, Flew's arguments for God make little sense. Perhaps something was lost in the translation from the original nonsense.

Roll on Christmas!

Posted by robe0419 at 6:33 PM

Serve yourself statistics

OxBlog recommends a web-based statistics program called StatCrunch. Not quite ready for prime-time, I think.

Other people's needs obviously differ from my own, but the market for these things seems thin.

OTOH, R is also free, but has a steeper learning curve. If it's as much like S as they say, then R might be the thing I need for getting estimates for the panel data model of weekly hours worked I plan to do for the last chapter of the dissertation, where people are nested in occupations which nest in industries within states.

Posted by robe0419 at 3:04 PM

Running does not make you live forever

Arthur Lydiard. Dead at age 87. (NYTimes obit that assumes less knowledge than NZ coverage)

Going for a long run right now would be the best way to remember Lydiard, but I have a book to review ...

Posted by robe0419 at 1:56 PM

Parenting

Unlike the chasm that separated baby boom parents from their parents, many of todayís teenagers share their parentsí tastes in clothes and music, as well as their political and social beliefs.

This assertion in the Star Tribune promised to be one of those newspapers-doing-social-history stories that is either
(1) a fluff piece promoting some new book
(2) a fluff piece based on anecdotes from friends of people in the newsroom.

So I was well prepared for an avalanche of anecdotes and little data. Lo and behold tho' -- actual data. The story actually reports on a survey that has been carried out since the 1970s that backs up the assertions in the headline! That's a story worth reporting in itself.

Posted by robe0419 at 8:08 AM

December 11, 2004

Things I have learnt from the past

Via Cliopatria I found Rob MacDougall's blog (another foreign historian of the American experience).

He writes:

[the early 20th century British author] does have a number of eccentricities that keep things lively. First, his tendency to Capitalize important Nouns (generally a good sign that you are approaching Crankville)

Capitalizing Important nouns is, I think a better sign that you reading something Published Before WW II. I came across the same Amusing (or Irritating?) Tendency in the inter-war sales and advertising advice literature.

Capitalization of mid-sentence letters that were not proper nouns was the lazy man's (they were almost all men) way of emphasizing the points he wanted you to make. Why read The Elements of Style to learn such elementary advice as using the order of the words in the sentence to emphasize things when you can just Capitalize them.

Nowadays we have bold and italic and underline for such things. Use them sparingly.

It's fair to say that business and advice literature dates pretty quickly, but then so do many of the novels of the time period. The stuff we remember (Fitzgerald, Woolf etc) is not at all representative of the fiction of the time.

Lest I leave you with the impression that all writing in the early twentieth century was execrable I should tell you several useful words I have learned.
ultimo is Latin for last month. The phrase "Referring to yours of the 17th ultimo" (or some other day than the 17th of the month) is common in formal letters from the 1920s and 1930s. Of course, with e-mail it's rare indeed you're replying to something sent more than two weeks ago ... but a handy phrase for those moment.

Similarly, the phrase "of the 17th instant" means the 17th of this month, and "on the 17th proximo" referred to the 17th of next month, so might be found in correspondence scheduling meetings.

I am sure you will all find these examples useful in your everday correspondence.

Posted by robe0419 at 1:29 PM

December 10, 2004

Sounds pretty bad

Gophers: Athletes 11th in Big Ten graduation

As if ranking last wasn't bad enough, the headline makes it sound like the Gophers' graduation rate is so bad it's off the charts.

Posted by robe0419 at 1:43 PM

Espresso machines

When I have a real job my desire for one of these fancy machines may increase with my salary, but really, you don't need to spend $180 or more on an espresso machine.

The humble Vietnamese coffee drip costs $1 (in Vietnam). You can get Bodum versions for $10.

A French press costs $10 at Target.

Or a Bialetti expresso maker in one of many sizes for less than $30.

Not hard to use. Few instructions required. No special "pods" of coffee. Just a grinder, and some water at 96C.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:22 AM

Infant thoughts

Tim Burke has a long, very interesting discussion of Home Alone America. He covers a lot of ground, but makes several important points;


  • It's difficult to say that the overall welfare of society has changed, even if there have been big changes in the way things are organized.
  • Even if you can identify big changes in particular measures -- such as the proportion of mothers working -- it doesn't automatically follow that those changes have a big effect on other aspects of our life.

I think that's right. On the second point, the most I would say is that the increase in married women's work is the most important change in the American labor market in the twentieth century. That I feel confident asserting. I don't feel comfortable saying that it was the biggest change for American women in the century, since to do so would be to deny the sweeping legal changes (suffrage and subsequent reforms) that occurred.

It's really quite stunning to observe that 84 years after women got the vote, only 1/7 of the House of Representatives are women. That says something about the entrenched nature of gender in some lines of work.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:08 AM

December 9, 2004

Civil unions

It's irrational to be proud of where you are from, but today I am. The New Zealand parliament passed the Civil Union bill 65-55.

Most of the support came from the [governing] Labour Party, but a significant minority of the [conservative] National Party. It's interesting that some of those that voted against it said they would have voted for gay marriage, but not for civil unions.

"A liberal, tolerant country." In some ways so far from "God's Own Country", but in other ways still the same place.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:46 PM

Impulse buy

Waiting in line at the Best Buy this morning gave me time to ponder, and then not make, an impulse purchase of Sports Illustrated or a Coke.

And then to remember that the 12 minutes I spent in line was not an accident, it might have been a bit too long than Best Buy would like, but most stores want you to wait a while.

You can date the science of trying to understand consumers to around the end of the nineteenth century. (I have written about this here, and can also recommend this book)

One of the first ideas the pioneers of scientific selling found to work well was suggesting associated goods. So, if someone was buying a dress, you should suggest a blouse. Likewise, you should put shoelaces and shoe polish in a little display on the counter at the shoe store.

Professional advice on how to lay out a store -- what to put where for maximum sales -- can be found as early as the late nineteenth century. Some of the early stuff was terribly unscientific, and laughable to modern eyes, such as the suggestion that a strict division between male and female departments should be observed. Men shouldn't have to walk past perfume to find a new tie, for example.

But pretty quickly, store managers and retailing academics and consultants, realized things we take for granted now; like the placement of 'heavy' or costly items at the back of the store (or the top floors). Hence the TVs residing towards the back at the Best Buy, and the furniture department being on the top floor of Marshall Fields.

Yet my reading of the pre-WWII sales literature suggests that there was a caution against pushing the customer too far. The explicit suggestion of unrelated goods was frowned upon. You shouldn't suggest a frying pan to a woman buying a hat, for example.

And the Best Buy sales clerk who answered my question about digital camera memory did not suggest I buy a Coke, he merely pointed me to the counter with the shortest line where I still had to wait for twelve minutes with all the temptations of Sports Illustrated and Coke in front of me ...

Posted by robe0419 at 3:58 PM

Couldn't put it better myself

Josh Marshall's response to Peter Beinart's TNR article (and response to Kevin Drum)expresses much of what I would say on the same topic.

I might add that I'm all for learning from history, but the differences between the Cold War and the "war against militant Islam" (to use Marshall's phrase) are so significant that it's not clear to me that history offers any easy lessons. I can understand the attraction of drawing parallels between the Cold War and the war we're in now, but there must be other parallels from other conflicts that will also be informative. In the end, history doesn't offer lessons, we make the lessons with the history, and that's a crucial difference.

As a final thought, this quote from Beinart's response struck me as odd:

In a way, the response confirmed my theory: that many contemporary liberals, including many smart ones, don't see defeating Al Qaeda as a paramount national challenge. And that's a political problem, since most Americans do. Throughout 2004, Americans consistently named terrorism as one of their top concerns and generally felt that President Bush could handle it better than John Kerry. (emph. added)

The conflation of the domestic concern with terrorism with "defeating Al Qaeda" is a misreading of how many voters view the problem. It's quite clear that so long as terrorists don't threaten America, many voters would care little whether Al Qaeda survives as an illiberal force abroad. That's sort of sad, but it's wholly understandable.

Posted by robe0419 at 3:12 PM

December 8, 2004

Quote of the day

" I don't think it's any more embarrassing for a child to say they have gay parents, than to say they have Tory parents, really."
From the lesbian sister-in-law of a conservative MP (the MP is planning to vote against the civil union bill)

Or for American readers: " I don't think it's any more embarrassing for a child to say they have gay parents, than to say they have Republican parents, really."

As it becomes clear that the sky will not fall on our heads when the Civil Union Bill passes in New Zealand, the opposition to the bill becomes tragi-comic:

The fast by Mr Paul Adams MP, reported in last week's post, is beginning to take its toll. Last Thursday he spoke on bFM, after a week without food. As a stranger to starvation and a friend to the fridge, I expected him to be lying in a darkened room while he spoke, but it soon became apparent that he was conducting the interview on his cellphone while driving. Someone else who used a cellphone while driving was legendary drummer Cozy Powell; his phoned last words were "Oh, Shit!" Fortunately no harm came to Mr Adams, but by Wednesday his reasoning was seriously impaired. In a speech that will go down in Parliamentary history, he tried to say that babies were born as boys or girls, not as gays or lesbians; he claimed he had scientific evidence to back up this non-sequitur. Today he added something about apple trees and orange trees; obviously fruits are on his mind. At tomorrow's vote, his colleagues should be careful to not let him wander into the wrong lobby or drift towards the canteen.

(Archived version here, I think, after 16 December)

Posted by robe0419 at 5:15 PM

Black mothers

As mentioned any discussion of children being home alone has to acknowledge that black mothers were in the labor force since ... well, since they got their first opportunity to earn money for themselves rather than be sold as chattels. The graph below shows black mothers' labor force participation in the last 120 years. The figures are for black mothers living with their husbands, so as not to muddy the comparison with any black/white differentials in marriage dissolution.

(Click on image for larger version)

Posted by robe0419 at 2:51 PM

Church/state separation and religious observance

Matthew Yglesias observes:

The thing that really jumped out at me was a graphic showing the percentage of people who attend religious services at least once a week in America and six Middle-Eastern and West Asian countries. I'd like to think my sense about this stuff isn't too unduly influenced by stereotypes, but I was quite surprised to see that American led this list with 45% of its citizens attending services at least once a week. Jordan was right behind at 44, Egypt and Morocco at 43, Turkey at 38, Saudi Arabia 28, and Iran 27.

What's interesting about this, I think, is that it reenforces the trend we see in the West, where countries that have experienced periods of close church-state ties (France, most of northern Europe) are relatively unobservant compared to countries with a stronger church-state separation.

Now I'm going to sound parochial, and the experience of 51 million people in Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ) is not much more data ... but these countries like the United States never had an established church, yet have seen religious attendance wither as it has in Europe.

That is the most interesting contrast, and likely to point by elimination, to the factors that make America so religious. I'm not going to answer the question in my lunch hour, so I'll pose some more:


  • Back to the races! The peculiar legacy of slavery and Reconstruction explains something about the distinctive development of the American labor movement. Since [at the margin] churches and unions compete for the time and money of the masses, it might be that racial unfreedom rather than religious freedom has something to do with the flourishing of religion.
  • Or, since labor unions faced a more hostile organizing environment in the U.S., the church benefitted as an alternative collective civic institution. (The gap in religious attendance between the US and CANZ has widened recently, but can be seen in the 19th and 20th centuries).
  • Immigration? CANZ had much more homogeneous migrant streams in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • Professional and amateur sports? At least in ANZ, amateur sporting teams were a huge part of community life, and still are. Did the earlier development of professional sports mean that amateur sports in America didn't develop as a competing civic institution to the church?
  • Taxes? None of these countries had an established religion, but did taxes and regulation of non-profits differ in a way that might have affected the viability of churches?

Answers please!

Posted by robe0419 at 2:43 PM

Happiness and wealth are [nearly] uncorrelated

Tyler Cowen shows why New Zealand is not getting rich quickly, but is a nice place to live.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:42 PM

Home Alone America

It's a happy day when the first blog you check out links to a multi-entry review of a book relevant to your dissertation.

On a personal, anecdotal level books that argue that daycare screws you up make me suspicious. Because, you see, I went to daycare and it did me a lot of good. As an only child it probably saved me from being screwed up in lots of other ways.

But I digress. Now that this is relevant to my dissertation I have to be a little more scholarly about the whole thing, right?

First, labor force participation as measured by the census does count people who are working part-time. Thus, 64% of mothers working does not equal 64% of mothers working full-time.

Second, it strikes me as highly implausible that the change in the last fifty years from near-universal exit from work upon childbirth to the common juggling of both motherhood and paid work is something that all these women have been forced into.

Now I don't deny that at an individual level some, probably many, women feel that their choices about combining work and motherhood are not as free as they would like. In other words, it's difficult to find the time to give your children lots of attention, and make career progress.

But I think it's more likely that the widespread combination of work and motherhood actually reflects families choices about what they want to do with their time and money.

I haven't read the book, but when it comes via inter-library loan, I'll be interested to see if there's much discussion on how this is a trend intimately related to declining fertility. I'll also be interested to see how much the book focuses on the modern 'plight' of white, professional women with 1-2 children, and how much it acknowledges that around 1/4 of black mothers were in the labor force in the early twentieth century.

I'll also be interested to see what the book says about the motivations couples have for earning two incomes. For example, at fairly low household income level s Americans expect to have two cars per family. And in a way that's not unreasonable. The Twin Cities area has pretty good public transit, but in most of the suburbs your transit options get you to work downtown at 7.39am and back again at 4.54pm (so don't miss the bus!). They don't get a mother out of the house at 10.17am to go to play group with the four year old. Thus, the likely need for a second car, especially if Dad doesn't work downtown, but works in some freeway-intersection office park that doesn't get transit service. But the second car costs money, and that might mean Mom has to go out to work, even if she'd rather spend more time with the kids.

My point is that parents could choose for one parent to stay home, but they also want to live in the suburbs and they want to have material possessions and go on vacation now and then too ...

In the end mothers are working because families want to have children and other things too.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:20 PM

December 7, 2004

Jefferson Davis County

Exciting afternoon at work working on historical county codes ...

There's a lot of Washington counties (31 in 1880).

And Jefferson Davis county, I can understand that in 1880, end of Reconstruction and all. But today? In Mississippi and Louisiana.

Isn't it about time to accept that the Civil War was lost?

Posted by robe0419 at 3:10 PM

Misspecification tests

The debate about conservatives in academia (see Daniel Drezner for some links) strikes me as curiously mis-specified.

First, in many of the sciences there's little political content in whatever is taught. There's no earthly reason why faculty in, say, statistics should be influenced in the classroom by what they do in the privacy of their own voting booth.

Conversely, though, if faculty in subjects with little inherent political content vote one way or the other that should be a useful reminder that academics might lean Democratic for two wholly rational reasons
(1) As Mark Schmidt points out if academics perceive Democrats as more likely to increase research funding or state support for universities they are voting for the interests of their business. Nothing wrong with that.
(2) If you're a somewhat smart person, smart enough to get a PhD at least, and choose to go into a profession where the salary scale is relatively flat, and relatively low compared to other graduate/professional degreed occupations; there's an element of self-selection.

By way of comparison, take nursing. Until the recent shortage, somewhat lower salaries for the same level of education. Yet no-one's complaining about how nursing is dominated by Democratic women and that those poor male Republican nurses can't catch a break.

The reason nurses tend to vote Democratic is that people to self-select into a somewhat lower-paying, public service oriented job, tend to be people who vote Democratic. Same with psychiatrists and pediatricians, for what it's worth.

Second, in subjects which are more political -- maybe inherently so -- there's a confusion of partisanship with politics. The two ain't the same.

I don't think it's unfair to say that it has generally been Republicans who want the American history curriculum to focus less on the perceived flaws in that story, and more on the timeless ideals of the founders and the beacon of liberty the nation quickly became etc, etc ... cue national anthem now.

In any case, if we acknowledge that America was not really very democratic for much of its first century, and that slavery was a stain on the nation ... we end up showering more praise on the Republican party if we project our modern values and sympathies back into the past. For it was the Republican party that in the 19th century paid more attention to racial injustice than the Democratic party.

This is well known, but I think it's instructive in making some wider points about history teaching and research. None of these are particularly original, but they bear repeating.

The differences between the present day and even the comparatively recent past are larger than the differences between the parties. This is so obviously true for slavery, but it's true in lots of other ways as well. It was only just over 30 years ago that Richard Nixon could champion a form of universal health insurance. To take a topic from my own research for once, during the Depression members of both parties supported legislation that would have banned married women from holding a paid job in state government if their husbands were working. Neither party proposes such a thing now.

Analogies to the present are sometimes a useful way of helping our understanding, but many of the problems of the past cannot be understood in terms of present day two-party politics.

More fundamentally, and this reveals my own epistemology, a good historian must try to understand the opinions and thoughts that they disagree with, and feel -- temporarily, at least -- empathy for the people they are researching. I don't think you should bring your empathy for the slave owner back into your present day politics, but if you're going to understand them in the past you have to take them seriously and sympathetically.

Posted by robe0419 at 1:54 PM

December 6, 2004

Discipline

Brad DeLong has interesting thoughts on how economists can productively speak to each other in a common language, while historians ... become trapped in a cage of group think. (I paraphrase of course).

Much to ponder.

Posted by robe0419 at 4:35 PM

In the Christmas spirit

Apropos of the previous post, Target may not make political donations to my liking, but I have to say I've been feeling warmer about Target because of their decision to banish the bellringers.

I've disliked the Salvation Army ever since they led the opposition to homosexual law reform in New Zealand back in the '80s; and the American version of the Salvation Army are similarly lacking in generosity of spirit to all.

Target's motivation for banning the irksome red ringers seems to be different from mine, but they'll be gone and that's good.

On a related note, it is slightly strange that the spokesperson for "Concerned Women of America" criticizing Target's decision is a man. How many, you know, actual women are involved with CWA if they can't even get a woman to be their public voice?

Posted by robe0419 at 2:39 PM

Shopping your politics

A handy list of which companies donate to which political parties.

As if I didn't need more evidence not to shop at Walmart ... Seriously, though, it really would be difficult to do much in this country if you didn't patronize companies that donated to the Republican party.

I'm skeptical that this kind of consumer activism -- shopping at Costco instead of Walmart -- does much. Most companies won't make the connection between their lost business and the political donations they made. You have to tell them, and I'm betting most people who might be influenced into going to Costco instead of Walmart will forget to tell them. Nothing wrong with that. Most people don't care enough about politics to remember to write a letter and say why they're buying their 48 pack of toilet paper somewhere else. I know that I'd be likely to forget, and I'm probably in the top quartile of politically interested people in the country.

If you really want to change corporate political behavior the most effective way to go is to buy some shares, and attend shareholder meetings. It's highly likely that the size of these donations goes beyond any rational corporate interest in acquiring political influence, and reflects the personal political beliefs of the executives.

As a shareholder you don't have to put up with that, and asking questions at shareholder meetings can be surprisingly effective when done well.

At the local level shopping at certain stores, and not at others, to express political opinions can work. But people have to tell companies what they're doing, or the message won't get through.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:20 AM

December 4, 2004

Streaking

Or, web pages for everything ...

Owing to not traveling much I've set a personal record for consecutive days of running (197 as of today), thus my interest was piqued by a letsrun.com discussion of these things, and learnt of the United States Running Streak Association.

Web pages for everything.

I'm curious how these people would deal with a trans-Pacific trip, and crossing the dateline since westbound flights involve losing a whole day. I always considered that breaking the streak (not that it was ever a big one at the time).

Boredom over, regular readers!

Posted by robe0419 at 7:40 AM

December 3, 2004

Life course politics

TNR has an article "Parent Trap," (subs only, sorry) which argues that because the Democrats did poorly in suburban counties with high fertility and high in-migration, that "Democrats have little choice. Demographics will not save them. On the contrary, the Democrats' task now is to try to save themselves from demographics."

It's the obverse of Ruy Teixeira's argument that there is an emerging Democratic majority, because the population is becoming more educated, and there are more Latino immigrants; and historically these groups have voted strongly for the Democrats.

Count me as skeptic of both arguments.

Both theses seem to rely in projecting voting behavior at one point in time forward into the future, ignoring two sources of change in partisan affiliation
(1) Political parties respond to what the electorate wants so as to capture their votes.
(2) Voters change their opinions over their lifetime as their needs, wants, and values change.

Both versions of the "demography is the Democrat's destiny" thesis are curiously static.

Posted by robe0419 at 3:41 PM

Historical census amusement of the day

20 people living in Philadelphia recording their birthplaces as "West Phila[delphia]" getting a birthplace code for "Unknown East European country" ...

West Philadelphia, Westphalia, what's the difference?!

Posted by robe0419 at 12:43 PM

Historians blogging round the world

According to a comment,"Beaucoup d'historiens bloguent aux USA, un peu moins en Angleterre et... presqu'aucun en France... except me ;-)"

My very shaky knowledge of French translates this to mean that many historians blog in the U.S., a little less in England, and no-one in France except this fine site.

Posted by robe0419 at 11:40 AM

Civil unions

Seemingly un-noticed by the rest of the world except for some crazy lunatics and gay community papers, New Zealand is about to become the sixth country in the world (after the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Norway) to legalize civil unions.

(I say "sixth country" because civil unions are available at the sub-national level in Canada and the United States at the moment).

The time to mark this moment is now, because once the legislation is passed the effect on the country will be a long way short of momentuous, if international experience means anything. In a year it will be a non-issue in New Zealand politics.

It will not be a non-issue for individuals and couples who are able to formalize their relationships, and have them legally recognized. For them it's a great thing.

It's also a great thing that the bill has got such wide support from people in both the Labour and National, and other parties.

Clem Simich probably has no reputation outside New Zealand, but I will let the last words be from a Catholic Tory: "This is Catholicism in action and that is being fair to everyone and not discriminating. That's what the Church should stand for and this bill does that."

Posted by robe0419 at 10:49 AM

Textbook economics

Henry at Crooked Timber asks "Why are textbooks so expensive", and gives an answer which even at this early hour of the day seems odd to me: "Itís not so expensive because thereís low demand - every graduate student in international relations has to read it."

Ummm ... if there was low demand, for any given supply curve, the market clearing price would surely be lower. The explanation probably has to do with demand being inelastic, owing to there being no substitutes for the good in question. Not to mention that sometimes the suppliers (authors) can screw with the demand curve by assigning the book in their own courses, or getting their friends to do so. That kind of interaction is definitely not covered in the perfect competition models you get in stage 1 textbooks.

UPDATE obviously early in the day for me ... Commenters point out that (1) there are high fixed costs in book publishing (true), and (2) that there is high demand which should take us along the [discontinuous] supply curve to a point where the average and marginal costs are lower.

I think inelastic demand and agency problems (professors assigning textbooks) still play a role.

Posted by robe0419 at 10:11 AM

December 2, 2004

Vicarious responsibility

I find myself in the odd position of partially agreeing with Norm Coleman: corruption in the oil-for-food program is sufficient cause for Kofi Annan to tender his resignation.

The principle of vicarious responsibility for the actions of people and programs below you gives office-holders most of the right incentives to be good leaders. But if we're going to apply this principle to matters Iraq related ... surely there are also some domestic candidates for resignation ...

Until such time as Coleman calls for this resignation (and others) we don't need to take his sudden acceptance of good governence seriously.

Posted by robe0419 at 12:57 PM

Publishing as a graduate student

Interesting discussion about publications by graduate students.

Clearly these expectations differ by field. I know several people in economics who have been hired at fine schools without any publications to their name. But in history, sociology and political science my sense of the anecdotal evidence is that a publication or two will save you from being culled on the first round. Who knows though?

Academics' reluctance to study themselves means there probably isn't much data on this matter. Not to mention that any study would really require delving into the internal politics of committee decisions, and hiring decisions are always over-determined anyway. It's easy to say that all other things being equal, the publication will help, but the other things are rarely equal.

As for the question, "should graduate students publish", my answer has two aspects;
(1) How does publication fit into the professional training we are doing?
(2) What are the marginal benefits and costs?

(1) How does publication fit into the professional training we are doing?
Ultimately being an academic means participating in the conversation. That means presenting papers at conferences, that means submitting articles tor publication.

Finishing your dissertation well also requires feedback from people beyond your committee. Conferences can be a good place to get feedback. Referees of submitted manuscripts can also provide this feedback.

Just as graduate students relax their focus on their dissertations to get experience teaching, so too they can relax the focus on the dissertation to see an article through to publication. Both are part of becoming an academic. Which is more important -- teaching or research -- will depend on the opportunities available, and a person's own ambitions.

(2) What are the marginal benefits and costs?
Ultimately it all comes down to costs and benefits at the margin.

Publications while in graduate school that don't detract from getting the doctorate should probably follow a profile something like this;


  • A research-based seminar paper or dissertation chapter gets good feedback at a relatively early stage from the advisor/committee.
  • More feedback is received from other faculty and graduate students in informal workshops at the student's own institution.
  • While being developed as part of the dissertation, the paper is written in such a way that it can stand alone as a conference paper or article.
  • The paper is presented at conferences, and receives good feedback.
  • The paper is submitted to a journal ...

At this point, the marginal costs can increase if substantial revisions are required. This is the point where the dissertation finishing and publication can really conflict. It is thus the point where the student has to decide how much work is required to get the article published. If it's less than a couple of weeks full-time work all told, they should probably do it. If it's more they should probably take the free feedback they got, cut their losses, and withdraw their submission.

If they want to send it off to another journal with minor revisions and try their luck again, they should do so. But if the paper is rejected twice, they should probably put the manuscript aside and focus on the dissertation.

Done like this, the publication in graduate school evolves naturally and relatively easily from the dissertation work. The benefits along the way -- the feedback from home faculty and peers, and conference participants -- is important. If it leads to a publications it's a big bonus.

Never having been on a search committee I'm not sure how graduate school publications will be viewed. I hope that having published a bit will signal that I'm capable of seeing things through to the end, but that will also require finishing the dissertation in good time.

In other words, so long as the publications appear complementary to the dissertation they should be a good thing. If they appear to be a substitute and distraction, they could be viewed as a bad thing.

With that, back to work, back to the dissertation ...

Posted by robe0419 at 9:12 AM

Mall of China

Fifty percent larger than the Mall of America.

The history of the mall began at Southdale, and the downtown department store began to die ...

(via Marginal Revolution)

Posted by robe0419 at 8:16 AM

December 1, 2004

EndNote

What's the use of your own corner of the web if you can't complain about something once in a while ....

EndNote is a highly useful piece of software. At $110 for students, it's a bargain when you work out how many hours it saves you.

Ever since they were acquired by Thomson Scientific, EndNote have got into the bad habit of releasing an annual "integer upgrade," that doesn't actually make major changes to the product.

Thus, last year we got Version 7 which had improvements over Version 6 that amounted to ... well, I can't remember and it was only last year. This year we get an upgrade to Version 8 that promises as its most major features (1) Unicode support, (2) unlimited library size, (3) compatibility with Word 2004.

These improvements will be useful to a pretty small group of existing users -- people who use foreign language references and people (research groups?) that have huge bibliographies. But they're not improvements enough for everyone to upgrade in the way that online database integration (EndNote 4 -- see I remember the version number and it was the year 2000), and cite-while-you-write (EndNote 6) were. And I'm stretching when I claim cite-while-you-write to be a major improvement -- I only got EndNote 6 because I upgraded to OS-X.

In the end, the overhyping and misnumbering is a bit silly, but as much of their market is going to continue to be faculty and graduate students they will always have an incentive to keep the entry prices low, as the elasticity of demand for the product is probably high, and there's a constant flow of new people into the pool of potential customers. That limits the potential for the company to try and hold-up existing users and extract revenues out of them.

Posted by robe0419 at 5:23 PM

Historians blogging more

Thanks to the kind references of Ralph Luker, Jonathan Dresner, and Sharon Howard I find I was wrong. There's a very good group blog Cliopatriaby historians, hosted at the History News Network.

I used to subscribe to an e-mail version of the History News Networks commentary back in 2000/1, only to unsubscribe when I found I wasn't reading most of them owing to the pressures of time and coursework. (Blog reading and writing is for the dissertation writing stage of this endeavour)

Now thanks to the wonders of RSS feeds I can see what's up at Cliopatria, and other HNN blogs.

Posted by robe0419 at 8:30 AM