Contemporary History

Here’s an amusing little article about Deep Throat by Timothy Noah — Deep Throat, Antihero. It seems that Deep Throat hated Nixon for all the wrong reasons.
further:Professor Bainbridge expresses it well in the conclusion to his post on Noah’s piece:

What Noah fails to consider is the possibility that those discrepancies might reveal a deeper truth: Maybe Deep Throat was really a composite character all along. We don’t know because we tolerate a culture of anonymous sourcing and journalistic dissembling.

Or there’s Big Arm Woman. More succinct.

Tuition up 27%

No, you didn’t read the headline wrong. The University of Richmond is raising tuition by 27% for future students (current students will only go up 5%, which is high enough in a single year to provoke howls, but compared to 27% who’ll complain? Just think of the money they’re saving!). Inside higher Ed has the story. The most beautiful thing is the president of the U of Richmond comparing college education to a cappuccino machine. Really. It makes me happy to be involved in the education industry, it does. I’m sure his faculty love and respect him, too. Here’s his about page. It doesn’t make him look like the director of marketing for Crate & Barrel.

Kodak – End of the World for some

My world has already started to assimilate the idea that there will be no more Ektachrome, but the Super-8 world is protesting. The New York Times story is interesting. Passages like this may explain why Kodak is no longer the largest employer in Rochester:

“I just showed one of my films at a small gallery out in Williamsburg,” said Stephanie Gray, a 33-year-old filmmaker from Queens. “It was actually the backroom of someone’s apartment.” Ms. Gray, who bought her Super 8 camera for $25 at a flea market, said the medium lends itself to a poetic, personal kind of filmmaking that cannot be achieved with digital filmmaking.

Art’s all well and good, but it doesn’t keep folks employed in Upstate New York. In fact, art doesn’t even make for a profit at the processing plants. An era has passed and people who debut their films in back rooms in apartments are not enough to keep a legacy product in distribution. All the art history departments of America weren’t enough to save Ektachrome, and we feel much the same way about its color qualities as you’ll read about Kodachrome Super-8.

Posted in Art

The Burnt Over District at its finest . . . Phrenology!

Phrenology is back! This is a story from Geneva’s immediately neighboring village, Waterloo, NY, home of Memorial Day. Really. They claim to have invented it there.
Further: Sorry – I had to run upstairs to the balcony to watch the Memorial Day parade and ceremony – I live across the street from where they set up the speakers’ platform every year. Geneva, in the best Burnt Over District fashion, has an octagon house. Here’s a view of the house, here’s an index of the octagonal, hexagonal, and round houses in New York State. The man who popularize octagonal houses was also a leading phrenologist, Orson Squire Fowler. He’s an excellent 19th century example of the all-too-common species of architectural moral prescriptivist: build this way and the world will be a better place. My favorite diagnosis of the type is from David Watkin, Morality and Architecture: The Development of a Theme in Architectural History and Theory from the Gothic Revival to the Modern Movement. Good book – well worth reading (though if you’re going to buy it, buy the revised edition, Morality and Architecture Revisited).

“I know you’re Ward Crutchfield, and I know you’re a senator, and I know you’re good, and I know this state needs you”

Did you read my Tennessee corruption entry the other day? This story from the Nashville Tennessean is too wonderful — here’s the first paragraph:

The legislature largely closed ranks around its indicted members yesterday, starting with a prayer by Lt. Gov. John Wilder condemning the tactics of federal agents who arrested seven people in the Operation Tennessee Waltz sting.

Or a little further, we have an “on the one hand / on the other hand” situation:

On one hand, Wilder defended the elected officials who were indicted after the FBI formed a fake company to seek state recycling contracts and paid bribes for legislation to favor the company.
On the other hand, other lawmakers seemed to acknowledge that the ethics legislation they passed earlier this session was not enough.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer legislature. Read the story — it’s a great example of the way government works.

Docents Back on at National Gallery — Schoolchildren NOT relegated to what their teachers know about art

Update on earlier entry: I blogged not terribly long ago about the National Gallery’s decision to suspend docent-led tours for school children for 18 months while they thought about what to do instead. I thought that was stoooopid.
Good news – the museum reconsidered and won’t cancel the program. Somehow they’ll soldier on and run tours and consider other options at the same time!! Your tax dollars very, very hard at work. Pffffft.
via ionarts

Do you have a license for that long, pointy kitchen knife?

You knew it was coming. A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing..

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase – and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.
They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.
The research is published in the British Medical Journal.
The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

The only moment of pull-back is this:

A spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “ACPO supports any move to reduce the number of knife related incidents, however, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing such changes.”

Kitchen inspections. That’s what it will call for. With confiscation of unlicensed knives.
via Samizdata

The Abecedarian Project

It’s always heartening to see follow-up to educational experiments. Joanne Jacobs provides a link to the the Carolina Abecedarian Project age-21 follow-up. The question – does early intervention with EDUCATIONAL pre-school do anything? The answer looks like “yes.”
The problem I always see is that these are carefully designed, university-run day care centers. So how do you extend the “best practices”? By forcing day care workers to get education school certification? By requiring them to be literate? What? For every requirement you add you’ve just put your day care out of the reach of a lot of people. Are you going to make it free? With what pot of cash?
There’s a really disturbing verb in the Executive Summary under “Policy Implications”

The Abecedarian study began treatment in early infancy, emphasizing the importance of providing a learning environment for children from the very beginning of life. my emphasis

“Treatment?” Oh, dear.

Clowns. Jugglers for Jesus. “Low” Mass?

I’m usually pleased to say that Hobart College has a special relationship with Trinity Church, Wall Street; Bishop Hobart was the rector of Trinity Church, and the support of the Trinity Vestry was very helpful many times in the first 40 years (at least) of the College. From my professional point of view I enjoy the connection because it’s one of the most significant Gothic revival churches in America (there are almost no photographs of the building on their own site, so I link to Wikipedia), designed by Richard Upjohn. Hobart and Geneva have a long relationship with the Upjohn family, too (at least 5 credited buildings in town, and the firm did work for us as late as World War II).
This week I’m distracted from all that by their clown ministry. There’s the Clown Worship on Trinity Sunday Then I go to their own site and see the photo set of Bom Bean, the Parish Clown. A Clown-in-Residence? On Wall Street? How – umm – pastoral. He’s the celebrant at the Clown Eucharist.
The saddest thing is the solemnity on the faces of most of the celebrants. I mean, if you’re going to wear a pair of horns to the altar you should at least look like you’re enjoying it. And if you don’t enjoy it, why not stick to the fancy get-up that I can only imagine one of the richest Episcopal parishes in America must own.
Oh, and let’s not justify this with the Juggler of Nôtre-Dame — he did his act at night and (he thought) alone. Someone was watching, but he wasn’t performing at the Mass. Not a precedent. Besides the fact that the “Juggler of Nôtre-Dame” is a nineteenth century short story. I’m not aware of a medieval source.
I guess I don’t mind a clown ministry per se, though if a pastor dressed as a clown ever comes to my hospital room I’m not asking him to stay. I think this is the worst sort of liturgical experimentation, though. Well, not the worst. It’s tied with liturgical dance. And, like liturgical dance, seeing is understanding. It’s bad enough that so many of the clergy can’t sing, but we know they won’t be able to shake it or waka-waka-waka.

The World of Surrogacy

In their best non-judgmental way they report, we wonder — the New York Times on women who bear children for gay couples. Specificially male couples. There’s a woman reported who did one for a lesbian couple but didn’t like them. That didn’t stop her from “surrogating” again.

The typical surrogate, according to the Center for Surrogate Parenting, is a woman of 21 to 37, who has had two children and 13 years of formal education. In many cases, she is motivated by a desire to be pregnant, as well as by a desire for attention.
Working with gay couples, psychologists say, minimizes the need for a certain kind of emotional vigilance that can displace the surrogate’s own needs from center stage. “Surrogate mothers who work with heterosexual couples need to be incredibly sensitive to the loss and trauma that the infertile woman has suffered,” Dr. Hanafin said.
Some surrogates also say they find the sense of defiance in providing gay couples with children meaningful.

Here’s a weird side effect of surrogacy:

And Ms. Buras remains committed, and plans to return for another attempt in June, despite the limitations their efforts have placed on her intimate life. According to her contract, Ms. Buras cannot have sex with her husband from one month before the transfer to one month after. Though her husband has been very supportive, she explained, “I can’t say that it doesn’t bother him, because it does.”

So could her husband sue the gay couple for alienatin of his conjugal rights? That’s 8 months of their married life (she’s tried three times already and is gearing up for a fourth) that they are not having sex in order that . . . . The world is a very odd place.

The Perpetual Election

I know they’re always running for office, all of ‘em, but someone’s* about to announce for Hillary!’s senate seat, which means she’ll begin the campaign for 2006 soon, to be followed (probably) by the presidential campaign for 2008. SIGH. Living as I do in a hotbed of Hillary!ism I’m sure we’ll see her at least once in the next 18 months.

*some deeply unimpressive Republican who’s larger claim to fame than his public service is the fact that he’s Richard Nixon’s son-in-law. Charming. At least her last opponent, the one who looked like a teenager, was actually a member of the House of Representatives. He still has a website up, by the way.