31 May 2005 - Tuesday

WaPo confirms it

"The Washington Post today confirmed

that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat," the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s and contributed to the resignation of president Richard M. Nixon.

The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. The three spoke after Felt's family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper's groundbreaking Watergate stories.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 17:05 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Power Desk

Generally accepted techniques

This is a few days old, but I just saw it for the first time: "In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths," by Tim Golden.

The New York Times describes a recent army investigation into two deaths of persons not protected by the Geneva Conventions:

Last October, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command concluded that there was probable cause to charge 27 officers and enlisted personnel with criminal offenses in the Dilawar case ranging from dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter. Fifteen of the same soldiers were also cited for probable criminal responsibility in the Habibullah case.

So far, only the seven soldiers have been charged, including four last week.


Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."


"I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus," [said] Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, the coroner, and a major at that time.


Sergeant Yonushonis described what he had witnessed of the detainee's last interrogation. "I remember being so mad that I had trouble speaking," he said.

He also added a detail that had been overlooked in the investigative file. By the time Mr. Dilawar was taken into his final interrogations, he said, "most of us were convinced that the detainee was innocent."

Via The Scope.

Now, for entertaining commentary on a slightly different topic, here's Rush Limbaugh (27 May 2005):

I'll tell you what, folks. one of the things that gets really frustrating is when I hear anybody -- I don't care what party they're from or ideology they're from -- say, "I am concerned about America's image in the world." Well, can I tell you something? I'm not concerned about our image in the world. I'm going to raise my hand. "I am not concerned about our image in the world, because right now, we got priorities that supersede our image and one of them is national security and the protection of the future of the country." That doesn't mean I'm not interested in our image around the world, but I think I know what it already is. Our image around the world is pretty damned good. Our image around the world is one that's great; you're just listening to the wrong people.

| Your riposte is requested - 10 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 7:40 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Power Desk

30 May 2005 - Monday


Cérémonie du "Memorial Day" au Cimetière Américain de Suresnes, le 30 Mai 1920. (Memorial Day ceremony at the American Cemetery at Suresnes, May 30, 1920.) Library of Congress.

Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 10:05 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

29 May 2005 - Sunday

Concord Hymn

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1836

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the Conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:25 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

27 May 2005 - Friday

Fox U.

At TNR Online, Ross Douthat reacts to the Right's calls for "intellectual diversity" on American campuses:

These lines of attack are defined, above all, by a belief that universities can be diversified from the top down. And this is precisely why it's likely to fail. Understandably but fatally, conservatives are ignoring the example set by the very New Left "tenured radicals" they hope to unseat, which is that real academic change comes through bottom-up infiltration, not attempts at engineering from the top.
Read further here. (Registration? We don't need no stinkin' registration.)

Via Cliopatria's Ralph Luker.

Incidentally, I find extremely bizarre this notion that we should do away with tenure in the name of academic freedom and diversity. Tenure being perhaps the most important protection of controversial views among professors, any call from the Right to eliminate it seems absurd.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 14:42 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

26 May 2005 - Thursday

The day the ambience died

This morning at school, I finally retreated to the indoor student lounge instead of spending the day on the wooden deck outside. The atmosphere in the lounge -- with a constant drone of vending machines and a dingy greenish light from fluorescent bulbs -- was much less pleasant than the sunshine I had been enjoying. I didn't get to watch the squirrels and grackles, or enjoy the breeze, or get a bit of a tan. There was one key difference, however, that made the move worthwhile.

In the abstract, I have no quarrel with smokers. I really don't care to get excited about their personal habits one way or the other. The problem is that my allergies are dreadful. I have nasal allergies that make me highly sensitive to second-hand smoke and skin allergies that make it unwise for me even to touch an unlit cigarette.

The outdoor deck at ACC is where the smokers (and they are legion) go for relief between classes. It has the only outdoor seating at the school, so everybody has to share it. I have a mild reaction to the place even when nobody else is there; when more people arrive, the place can be unbearable for me. Since I get more and more sensitive with continued exposure, this probably means I won't be able to use the deck at all in a few days.

I had the same problem last summer. At some point, I simply stopped going outdoors at break time -- the air was far fresher inside. Worse, however, was the fact that my class had several smokers in it. When they came back inside after the mid-class break, they brought lingering smoke with them. I found it difficult to breathe for the rest of the period.

The move I made today will probably be permanent. I simply don't want to deal with the problem at all anymore; yesterday, I was itching all evening after spending two hours in the "fresh air" that morning.

I don't want to dislike smokers. I really don't. It's just that I have to avoid them and the ground they've stood on recently. It's annoying.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 21:22 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

25 May 2005 - Wednesday

"Nerd hermeneutics"

At Easily Distracted, Tim Burke has some interesting things to say about the nature and significance of fantasy universes:

The biggest mistake that some non-nerd hermeneuts make in looking on with curled lip is to assume that the work of nerd hermeneutics is about wish fulfillment, about fashioning universes in which we would prefer to live. There’s some of that going on, to be sure, and I mentioned it in an earlier post. Jedis, wizards, nobility, superheroes are attractive figures to adolescent geeks who imagine themselves as possessing inner talents and merits that are scorned or marginalized in the wider culture. ...

But a substantial amount of nerd hermeneutics is not about wish fulfillment, quite the contrary. Like David Brin, the more hermeneutical work I do on Star Wars, the less I want to live in its universe at any time. In the end, I don’t like the Jedi at all, much less wish I were one.

Read on to see his opinion of the Christian content in the Chronicles of Narnia.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 19:07 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

23 May 2005 - Monday

Le cours commence

French III began this morning. The course will last five and a half weeks; it will be followed by French IV in the same format. Initially, I was concerned that my skills would be dangerously dull after a year off. I spent a few hours reviewing my old textbook over the weekend.

The drive into downtown Austin was easier than I expected. Because the class begins later than my classes did last summer, I was afraid that I might have problems with morning traffic. That fear, it seems, was unfounded. Parking, however, is harder to get, since many students arrive on campus before I do.

I strolled across the street to buy my textbook, then picked up my parking permit at the campus police office. With more than an hour to go before class, I found an alcove near the classroom and sat down to scan the opening chapter of the textbook. I was relieved to find not only a thorough review of introductory French in the first unit, but also continuous review of the concepts in French I and II throughout the text.

When class started, I found that most of the students will need all the review they can get. There are several people in the course who have not taken any French in years; a few have no hope of survival at all. The bright side of this situation is the fact that I will not feel inferior or inadequate in any way.

I was flattered, in fact, to find that both my current teacher (with whom I also took French II) and my old teacher from French I, M. Prévost, recall me from last summer. "I remember you!" M. Prévost exclaimed when he saw me. "I remember your grades, too." I grinned. We'll see whether things go as well this time.

| Your riposte is requested - 5 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 22:14 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

22 May 2005 - Sunday

Central Texas wildflowers

A few photographs I took recently.

Continue reading "Central Texas wildflowers" below the fold . . .

| Your riposte is requested - 4 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 14:48 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

Political theory and film

Check this out. Russell Arben Fox is fleshing out a bit of jolly good sense: a political theory class designed around movies.

The class is going to open with a discussion of movies and politics, and specifically some of great examples of films inspiring, reflecting, or shaping political discourse in America; if possible, I'm going to show some clips from The Best Years of Our Lives (regarding America's postwar aspirations and supposed ideological "consensus") and Network (dealing, obviously, with the breakdown of such).
Thanks to Ralph Luker for the link.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 1:25 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

21 May 2005 - Saturday

The first duty of a doctor

Yesterday evening, I drove into Austin to watch Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries (1957) at the Paramount Theatre. The film, which I had never seen before, more than met my expectations.

The central character is Isak Borg, an aging doctor. The story takes place on the day of a ceremony, in the cathedral of the distant city of Lund, that will honor him for 50 years of distinguished service. Troubled by dreams of his own death, Borg abruptly decides that morning to drive himself to the ceremony rather than fly. His daughter-in-law Marianne, who has been living with him for a few weeks rather than with her husband in Lund, joins him for the automobile trip.

Borg makes a few significant stops along the way. First, he stops to show Marianne his boyhood home. Pausing at the wild strawberry patch in the woods nearby, he lapses into a dream of his first love, Sara. We learn through the dream that the straightlaced young Borg lost Sara to his own less reputable but more ardent brother.

Borg is roused from his dream by the voice of a stranger. The stranger is a gregarious young woman. She and two male friends, who seem to be rivals for her attention, ask for a ride (they are going to Italy). The girl is named Sara. Borg seems rejuvenated and charmed by their presence, and they take to calling him "Father Isak." The road trip resumes.

The next stop is unintentional. Borg's car nearly collides with an auto going in the other direction. Both cars swerve off the road, but no one is hurt. The occupants of the other vehicle are a middle-aged husband and wife, who are quite cheerful about the accident but who bicker viciously (through fixed smiles) between themselves. With their car out of commission, they join the crew in Borg's capacious vehicle, but Marianne soon asks them to leave; the husband's cutting remarks about his wife have become intolerable.

At the next stop, Borg takes his daughter-in-law to see his mother, a formidable and forbidding 96-year-old. The mother welcomes them amicably but not warmly. Borg seems unusually cheerful, but Marianne seems disturbed by the cavalier way the ancient lady speaks about her family.

Borg and Marianne return to their car to find that the young men accompanying Sara, whom they had left in an argument over the existence of God, are engaged in a physical fight. Apparently Sara is used to this. Her favorite is the boy who wants to become a parson, but she is aware that the other, who wishes to become a doctor, will probably make more money.

The journey resumes. Borg dozes off as his daughter-in-law drives. He enters another dream.

In this dream, Borg is called into an examination room to answer vague charges of incompetence. The examiner quizzes him: "What is the first duty of a doctor?"

Borg, stunned, answers, "I've forgotten."

"The first duty of a doctor," the examiner reminds him, "is to ask for forgiveness."

Borg is then led to a place in the woods, apparently to witness a scene he remembers from life. He watches as his wife Karin is raped by someone she knows (they are both well dressed, as if coming from a party). Afterwards, Karin soliloquizes about what her husband's response will be. He will try to calm her. He will say it was not her fault, even that it was his own fault. He will be perfectly proper about it – but he will be cold as ice, as always.

When Borg wakes up, Marianne asks what Borg was dreaming about. He answers that he has dreamt that he is dead – dead even in life. Marianne says that her husband has talked in a similar way about himself lately. She reveals that Evald has threatened to leave her if she decides to have the baby with which she is pregnant. Also, Evald has been speaking of suicide.

The journey continues without incident. The party arrives at Lund, where Evald is already waiting, along with Borg's old housekeeper Agda. The ceremony at the cathedral proceeds magnificently. The youths stay to cheer for "Father Isak."

That night, Borg fondly bids farewell to Sara and her friends, who continue their trip to Italy.

He asks Evald about his marriage; Evald says that he and Marianne are going to try to stay together. Borg kisses Marianne good night, and they announce that they like each other after all.

He asks his housekeeper, "Miss Agda," whether – after 40 years – they know each other sufficiently well to call each other just "Agda" and "Isak."

He drifts off to sleep, dreaming about meeting his parents on the shore of the lake by their home.


Victor Sjöström, in his last film role, is magificent as Isak Borg. He began his career in silent film; this movie uses beautiful closeups to make the most of his expressive talent. His voice is also perfect for the character; even with poor subtitles, I was grateful that the original sound had been retained.

The symbolism in the film, although heavier than most audiences are accustomed to seeing, is palatable because it is woven into the story naturally. Dreams are expected to be symbolic, after all, and children often take after their parents. In dreaming about different stages of his own life or merely in witnessing different stages in the lives of others, Borg sees the different directions a person's choices about love can take him.

The film manages a happy ending without resorting to schmaltz. Wild Strawberries, unlike maudlin cousins like A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life, does not exaggerate its protagonist's vices or virtues; Isak Borg is a routine well-meaning man of ambition. His redemption, therefore, can be of a similarly moderate nature. His "first duty" is the duty of every doctor: to ask forgiveness for the sacrifices he has made.

In particular, I enjoyed the fact that Borg makes this trip at the end of his life. He is not making a dramatic change that will redirect the course of his existence. He is making what small choices he can to show love to those around him – the sorts of choices that must be made every day.

| Your riposte is requested - 3 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:03 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

20 May 2005 - Friday

Dr. K has a blog!

Chairman Ku's Little Blue Book. Maybe we can convince Dr. J to start next.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 17:12 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

Clone War = War on Terror?

A large number of people have suggested that Episode III presents a parallel to the growth of American power under the current presidential administration. It is only natural, I suppose, that they should see such an analogy, tiresome as it is.

Continue reading "Clone War = War on Terror?" below the fold . . .

| Your riposte is requested - 6 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 14:53 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

19 May 2005 - Thursday

It had to be done

So I went to see Episode III. It was OK ... not particularly interesting.

But I did see it before Melby did ....

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 22:08 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

Language in Star Wars

In honor of the release that is, I believe, in theaters even now -- and because I have neglected Language Log lately -- I direct you to Eric Bakovic's "Speak this way I do because wiser than I actually am I sound."

Overall, the members of the Rebellion speak in very casual American English, as do many of the foot soldiers in the Empire. But officers in the Empire tend to speak a more refined-sounding variety of (British) English. (Note that Princess Leia code-switches in Episode IV, A New Hope, depending on who she's talking to; otherwise, Obi-Wan Kenobi is apparently the only Brit on the good side.)
See also a slightly more arcane post by Geoffrey K. Pullum here.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 0:37 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Frivolity Desk

18 May 2005 - Wednesday

Beyond the comment form

I've already linked to Blog Them Out of the Stone Age once ... and kicked myself for failing to alert friend Barbour to its existence earlier.

Right now, Mark Grimsley (a professor at Ohio State) is on the third part of a series called "Too Monstrous for Remorse," covering the Mexican War. This particular post is an excerpt from an entry the author wrote for the Encyclopedia of War and American Society.

On the one hand, Whigs extolled the achievements of the American armies, particularly since the two principal field commanders, Taylor and Scott, were members of their party. On the other, they savaged the Polk administration for causing the war, for misrepresenting the truth in its request for a declaration of war, for mismanaging the war, and for pursuing a war aim—territorial expansion—that was at odds with American values. Republican institutions should expand by example, not coercion, some argued. Others, playing the race card, pointed out that expansion would entail the annexation of a morally degraded people who were “unfit . . . to sustain a free government.”
I like this article. Beyond that, however, if you read the rest of the series and other parts of the blog, you will see why I love Grimsley's approach to academic blogging.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 18:57 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

16 May 2005 - Monday

The Paramount's summer season

The Paramount is a cozy, beautiful old theater nestled among the buildings of downtown Austin. Each summer, it plays a lovely selection of classic films -- a rare opportunity to see them on a real screen. This summer's lineup may be found here.

I'm particularly interested in the Bergman films on the list. I've already missed several of them, but I still have a chance to see Wild Strawberries (among others) this week, if I get a move on.

In June, I may go see Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, and perhaps the Marx brothers' Duck Soup, which I've never seen before. Some of the other members of my family sounded interested in The Philadelphia Story in July ... and so forth. Unfortunately, Lawrence of Arabia doesn't arrive until September, when I will be back at school.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 15:56 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

15 May 2005 - Sunday

History Carnival VIII

The eighth History Carnival is up at Saint Nate's Blog. Its collection includes a few entries I recommended:

Caleb McDaniel's "John Brown and Nonviolence," which takes some book reviewers to task for implying that nonviolent action is inherently less courageous than violent action.

Robert "KC" Johnson's "Iraq and Vietnam," which points out several flaws in analogies between the two.

Stephen Bainbridge's "Prize Money and Agency Costs" and Henry Farrell's "Rum, Sodomy and the Nash," which debate the functions served by the British Navy's institutions in the Napoleonic wars (this discussion was brought on by O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels).

Bulleyah's "The Epic Story of Dastans," which describes a form of literature that seems to have disappeared yet also lingers in the literature we have today.

There are many other excellent entries in this lot.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 23:59 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

14 May 2005 - Saturday

Today's consumption

G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday in print.

Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion on NPR.

Pixar's The Incredibles on DVD.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 22:39 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

13 May 2005 - Friday

Textbook acquisitions

As promised, I visited the UT Press tent sale in Austin today. All of my purchases were "hurt" (ever-so-slightly damaged) new paperbacks, at three dollars each:

Francesco Casetti: Theories of Cinema, 1945-1995

V. Propp: Morphology of the Folktale

Ben Brady: Principles of Adaptation for Film and Television

Joel Sherzer: Speech Play and Verbal Art

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea and Basima Qattan Bezirgan: Middle Eastern Muslim Women Speak

Alison Futrell: Blood in the Arena: The Spectacle of Roman Power

Mohammed 'Abed al-Jabri: Arab-Islamic Philosophy: A Contemporary Critique

M. M. Bakhtin: Speech Genres and Other Late Essays

Richard H. Immerman: The CIA in Guatemala

And a freebie:

Emory C. Bogle: Islam: Origin and Belief

| Your riposte is requested - 3 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:00 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

12 May 2005 - Thursday

A trip into town

I was getting a strong agrarian vibe from the crowd in the local public library today; the influence of Austin (thirty miles away from us) seemed to be at a low ebb. There was, however, one aging fellow in running shoes and a colorful headband. Ah behyet hyee tahks lahk theeyis.

I borrowed James Joyce's Dubliners and the St. Augustine volume of the Great Books series, for good measure. Then, at the book-sale tables in the foyer, I purchased two old National Geographic books about the USSR for a dollar each.

I cannot express how much I'm looking forward to that UT Press sale tomorrow.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 22:04 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

11 May 2005 - Wednesday

Sizzling weekend plans

This week, University of Texas Press will hold a book sale in Austin on Friday and Saturday.

We're looking at a minimum discount of forty percent; I could get a new graduate-level textbook with slight damage for just three dollars. My acquisitions at the same sale last year were marvelous.

You know, this would make a good date opportunity.

| Your riposte is requested - 6 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 17:08 Central | Link | TrackBack (1)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

10 May 2005 - Tuesday


Not that I count for much, but I have endorsed the American Association of University Professors' condemnation of a document put forward by Britain's Association of University Teachers.

The AUT recently voted to boycott some Israeli universities. Here is the AAUP's response:

Delegates to a recent meeting of the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) approved resolutions that damage academic freedom. The resolutions call on all members of AUT to "refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration, or joint projects" with two universities in Israel, Haifa University and Bar Ilan University. Excluded from the ban are "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies," an exclusion which, because it requires compliance with a political or ideological test in order for an academic relationship to continue, deepens the injury to academic freedom rather than mitigates it.

These resolutions have been met with strong condemnation and calls for repeal within the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The American Association of University Professors joins in condemning these resolutions and in calling for their repeal. Since its founding in 1915, the AAUP has been committed to preserving and advancing the free exchange of ideas among academics irrespective of governmental policies and however unpalatable those policies may be viewed. We reject proposals that curtail the freedom of teachers and researchers to engage in work with academic colleagues, and we reaffirm the paramount importance of the freest possible international movement of scholars and ideas. The AAUP urges the AUT to support the right of all in the academic community to communicate freely with other academics on matters of professional interest.

Go here to add your name to the petition, which not only endorses the AAUP's statement but also calls on the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association to adopt it as well.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 22:26 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

History in blogs

Cliopatria's Manan Ahmed and Ralph Luker have teamed up in the new issue of Perspectives (newsletter of the American Historical Association) to introduce historians to the blogosphere.

In "Blogging: It's Easier Than You Think!" Ahmed defines terms like "CMS" and "RSS" and steers readers toward Blogger, TypePad, and even Technorati. Meanwhile, Luker uses "Were There Blog Enough and Time" to provide a brief history of weblogs and a description of several prominent history bloggers.

Paging Dr. K ... and all the LeTourneau history students who need to put their work online ....

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 20:52 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

John Brown and political violence

Caleb McDaniel says he is eagerly waiting for his copy of David Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist : The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights. Why? Because the book, according to early reviews, seems to be not only a lionization of John Brown, but also a condemnation of nonviolent abolitionists as ineffective and perhaps cowardly. I like McDaniel's response:

It certainly is true that nonviolence sometimes is a sign of cowardice, but so is violence. It's always startling to me that despite the fact that most people accept detailed taxonomies of different kinds of violence, which range along a spectrum from justified and heroic violence to illicit abuse, very few of us have similarly well developed taxonomies of different kinds of pacifism, which can also range from the heroic to the thoughtless. I have suggested that a simple dichotomization of radicalism that places "fight" on the one hand and "flight" on the other does violence to history.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 15:37 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Humanities Desk

9 May 2005 - Monday

The secret lives of groomsmen

Friday, 12:30 p.m. My father and I have lunch at Papacita's. (Dad drove up to Longview in the family van in order to cart home the bulk of my possessions.)

Friday, 3:30 p.m. Thanks to Dad, I am ready to check out of my apartment on time. None of my roommates are.

Friday, 7:30 p.m. At Al's Formal Wear, I try on a tuxedo for the first time in my life. I survey the results with satisfaction. I look spiffy. The vest and tie are periwinkle.

Friday, 7:50 p.m. I look askance at Rachel and Sharon, who are poring over a catalog in Al's as they wait for us guys to finish with the tuxes. They seem to be plotting something.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. The graduates walk at commencement. When Ardith walks, Heather calls out, "That's my roommate!" The audience laughs.

Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Gallagher, Moore, Ziggy, and I crash the Hoyts' party at the park. Sharon provides us with cake. Moore chugs lemonade from the carton, to the great amusement of the Hoytlings.

Saturday, 10:30 p.m. In the office of the Ice Cave, the groomsmen begin a spontaneous Weird Al sing-along that will last the better part of an hour. I think philosophical thoughts about the meaning of friendship.

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. I eat pecan pancakes at IHOP with several members of Scholl's family, including his mother and grandmother, who are simply marvelous people.

Sunday, 11:40 a.m. Gallagher and I leave Scholl in his mother's custody. He makes vague promises about a beard trimmer.

Sunday, 12:40 p.m. Arriving at church with my tuxedo, I take a moment to eat a sandwich. Moore has already arrived, but he is still playing a computer game on his impossibly tiny laptop.

Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Gallagher's tie has finally been affixed to his collar. ("Al" made a slight error when sending us the tuxedoes.) The photographs begin. We will have to round up the groomsmen all over again several times before the photography is done. Some misguided soul seems to be under the impression that groomsmen are supposed to run errands or something. I know better. I am here to make the photographs look good. I stay put and let Morgan keep taking my picture.

Sunday, 3:25 p.m. A close call in the foyer of the church: we lock Scholl in one of the church offices to keep him from seeing Anna before the ceremony begins. He looks nervous. When he threatens to run away, we offer to break his legs.

Sunday, 3:35 p.m. It begins. Anna and Scholl look terrified during most of the ceremony. Drs. Woodring and Kubricht will later tell us that we groomsmen look funereal.

| Your riposte is requested - 8 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 20:45 Central | Link | TrackBack (1)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

6 May 2005 - Friday


I have to admit that there is something oddly satisfying about being able to see my carpet again. And yet, my apartment seems so empty now ... I've cleaned it for the summer. Soon I will dismantle even my computer setup, finish packing, and drive back to my hometown.

The lonely desk

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:53 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

5 May 2005 - Thursday


With the end of this semester, 156 credit hours.

Summer classes and two semesters left.

Projected total: 194 credit hours.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 17:37 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Life Desk

4 May 2005 - Wednesday

I feel sort of guilty

It struck me for the first time today that I have no actual final exams this semester. I normally have it easy during finals week, but this is the first time everything has taken the form of a paper or presentation instead of a test.

| Your riposte is requested - 1 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 11:59 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk

2 May 2005 - Monday

Viral literacy

Brandon was considerate enough to send this my way.

* What book in Fahrenheit 451 would you want to be?

Hmm. Earlier versions of the question have it as "apart from" rather than "in."* Oh, well. "In" makes more sense to me. I choose the Book of Ecclesiastes; the irony of 12:12 is particularly applicable here.
* Have you ever been really struck by a fictional character?
I got pretty wrapped up in the fate of the title character of Jane Eyre when I read it at age 10 or 11. She was probably the first one.
* What was the last book that you bought?
Excluding accessories like textbooks, I think that would be Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.
* What was the last book you read?
A whim during the papal election led me to put in an ILL request for The Jeweler's Shop: A Meditation on the Sacrament of Matrimony, Passing on Occasion into a Drama, by Karol Wojtyla. I read it on Saturday instead of studying for finals. Just before starting that, I finished off Isaiah Berlin's Crooked Timber of Humanity.
* Which books are you reading?
I still claim to be reading Purgatorio in The Divine Comedy; finals week should give me a chance to get back to it and finish it off. I may start back in on the second half of The Dialogic Imagination (Bakhtin) while I'm at it.
* Which five books would you take to a desert island?
Do volumes count separately? 'Cause if not, Encyclopædia Britannica would be one.

The Bible (ESV, probably).

T. S. Eliot: Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950.

A Norton anthology of something or other.

US Army Survival Manual.

* To whom are you going to send this erm... let's say confession...and why? (three people)

Let's keep this going in undergraduate circles. How about Wheeler the literature and history person, Gallagher the computer and math person, and Michaela the newspaper and elementary high school education person?
* Update: I've done a little background research. This survey has been mutating quite freely during its circulation in the blogosphere. My version has been mangled by translation into and back out of Portuguese. Here's a version closer to the original:
You are stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

What is the last book you bought?

What are you currently reading?

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

Who are you going to pass this book meme baton to and why? (only three people)

| Your riposte is requested - 2 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 19:56 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

1 May 2005 - Sunday

History Carnival VII

The seventh History Carnival is up at Studi Galileiani.

| Your riposte is requested - 0 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 20:00 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk

Harvard Law School hates God

They are trying to frighten me.

They are trying to scare me away. They are trying to convince me that an evangelical Christian is totally unwelcome. They are trying to persuade me that I am going to be harassed, intimidated, even professionally destroyed. They want my family to despair for my very soul.

They are not radicalfeministhomosexualsocialistatheistabortionistterroristdemocrats.

They are my fellow evangelicals. And they want me to tremble.

When I received the 30 April issue of World Magazine, one of the leading publications of American evangelicalism, I opened it to find an article entitled "Uncongeniality contest: Two views of elite academia from Harvard Law School."

I smirked.

Right away, of course, the title suggests that there are at least two parties vying for control of academia -- those "uncongenial" to evangelicals, and those even less congenial to evangelicals. The headline admits no possibility of welcome or even indifference; clearly, academia is actively trying to make me feel unwanted.

Now, before I go on, I should say that this is not an entirely unfounded opinion on World's part -- but it is being presented in a simplistic and recklessly political way. A rough equivalent would be for a university's student newspaper to tell its constituents that evangelical churches do not welcome liberals.

Fortunately -- and to my pleasant surprise -- this article (written by Marvin Olasky, himself a journalism professor at the University of Texas) is not merely an editorial. It is a pair of interviews, reproduced in question/answer format.

The first interviewee is an evangelical Christian, William Stuntz, who is a professor at Harvard Law School. Guess what? He wasn't playing along with World at all.

Continue reading "Harvard Law School hates God" below the fold . . .

| Your riposte is requested - 3 so far
| Posted by Wilson at 16:04 Central | Link | TrackBack (0)
| Report submitted to the Education Desk