Weather weirdness

Up and down, up and down. This week has been very warm. I went to campus today in a cotton sweater and a windbreaker. I had a late lunch/early dinner this afternoon, and walked past Riteaid for Cetirzine (generic Zyrtec). While I was inside it started BLOWING. When I was about to leave the airlock doorway was opening and closing on its own — and snow was blowing in! I walked home in more fast-blown snow than I’ve walked through since Argyle went to her reward; she was a real snow-dog!

Using the Ancient Greeks to pay for Modern Greece

You too can use the Parthenon as a backdrop! Film at the shrine of Apollo at Delphi for $2,100 a day!

Forced to survive on a mere 0.7% of the national budget, the culture ministry hopes the fees will help boost its ability to look after monuments that have been badly hit by Greece’s economic crisis. Lack of maintenance funds have meant that workers could only start building a new staircase in Delphi this week.
All the revenues will be used by the ministry, whose funds have been cut by more than 30% since 2010.
“This is a very big step and we are not going to stand idly by if we feel the monuments are being used improperly,” said one archaeologist. She said many of her colleagues were “not happy”.

I’ll bet they’re not!

I’m already over the Era of Good Feelings about this semester.

Well that was a record — I posted happy thoughts this morning and I’m complaining by 7:30 p.m.
OK – one of my classes has an assignment due before tomorrow’s meeting. They need to go to Blackboard and download (at least) 3 response worksheets for readings from the Bible. They must do the Matthew sheet and then they can choose 2 from the other 11. Next week they do 5, then the third week they do 2 for a grand total of 10.
Here’s the tricky part — I ask them before emailing the file to me to save it under a new name — and that their LAST name must be the first word in the file name. Why?
Why should I have to explain? That’s what the directions say and what I explained in class. But if you, in this world of carefully explained Outcomes and Assessments need to know why, it’s because when I download them files with proper nomenclature will automatically alphabetize in my Download folder.
Why am I so neurotic about last names? In a world with multiple Sarahs and Emilys in every class (10.3% of the students on the Rome Program last year were named Emily, TWO of them Emily H.) I prefer to work with last names.
So – one student has now tried 3 times. Since I happen to be sitting at the computer messing with images for tomorrow’s lectures, I keep bouncing the email back to her asking for the same thing — last name first. She’s up to FirstNameLastNameTopic.docx now, which is improvement (but still wouldn’t solve the Sarah Problem).
Other students have the same problem, but they have responded correctly after one email. Imagine a class of direction-readers! What a luxury!

Creepy Presidential Nostalgia

Megan McArdle on the most disquieting part of last night’s State of the Union address — the nostalgia for the 50s and 60s:

I think the speech made it even clearer that other speeches have that the president’s vision of the world is a lightly updated 1950s technocracy without the social conservatism, and with solar panels instead of rocket ships. Government and labor and business working in tightly controlled concert, with nice people like Obama at the reins–all the inventions coming out of massive government or corporate labs, and all the resulting products built by a heavily unionized workforce that knows no worry about the future.
There are obviously a lot of problems with this vision. The first is that this is not what the fifties and sixties were actually like–the government and corporate labs sat on a lot of inventions until upstart companies developed them, and the union goodies that we now think of as typical were actually won pretty late in the game (the contracts that eventually killed GM were written in the early 1970s).
And to the extent that the fifties and sixties were actually like this, we should remember, as Max Boot points out, that this was not actually the day of the little guy. Big institutions actually had a great deal more power than they do now; it was just distributed somewhat differently–you had to worry less about big developers slapping a high-rise next to your single-family neighborhood, and a whole lot more about Robert Moses deciding he wanted to run a freeway through the spot where your house happened to be.
The military model of society–employed by both Obama, and a whole lot of 1950s good government types–was actually a kind of creepy way to live. As Boot says, “America today is far more individualistic and far more meritocratic with far less tolerance for rank prejudice and far less willingness to blindly follow the orders of rigid bureaucracies.” If you want the 1950s except without the rigid conformity and the McCarthyism, then you fundamentally misunderstand what made the 1950s tick.

Drop/Add closed yesterday . . .

. . . and for once I have a good distribution of students. My 200-level High Middle Ages class (I keep meaning to change the title from “Age of Chivalry,” which I inherited) is almost all sophomores and juniors, with a sprinkling of first years. The only seniors are non-majors (though one of them may be a minor). My 300/400-level Roman class is almost all juniors and seniors, with 3 of the seniors taking the 400 option (longer research paper with presentation to a departmental colloquium in April). The only first year student has a background in Latin and is interested in a classics major or minor.
Looks good!

Early Modern: the Competition

One of my colleagues on the search committee was reading files yesterday afternoon and asked who else was searching this season. I popped onto the Academic Jobs Wiki to answer her question. Here’s the competition, with some notes:
Tenure Track
Early Modern or Renaissance/Baroque
College of Charleston – Ren/Bar (teach a 3/3 load)
Concordia U Montreal – filled
Tulane
Oklahoma State – hiring assistant or associate
U of British Columbia – asst or assoc
U of Pennsylvania – wide ranging regional interests, 1300-1750
Narrower than us
Case Western – Early Modern Southern Europe
U Wisconsin-Madison – Early Mod Northern Europe
Columbia – Southern Europe 1300-1700
Broader than us
Coastal Carolina – Renaissance specialty, must teach Medieval, Ren, Baroque – filled
Grinnell – medieval / early modern – asst or assoc
Lawrence U – Renaissance primary, Medieval secondary
Mills College – Medieval, Renaissance, OR Baroque — filled
U of Alabama – Medieval/Renaissance
U of Montevallo – Ancient to Renaissance
U of Pittsburgh – any field in pre-1750, especially Mediterranean or Global
U of Southern Indiana – Med, Ren, OR Baroque
Non Tenureable or Other
Lasalle University– Chair, Fine Arts Dept – specialization in Ren Art
Middlebury – visiting
UMass Dartmouth – visiting
Our job?
Hobart and William Smith Colleges invite applications for a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor in Early Modern European Art and Architecture, beginning Fall 2012. Preference will be given to candidates prepared to teach broadly in the arts of Europe and with a research specialization in painting or sculpture. Additional teaching interest in an outside field or period complementing those of current department members is desirable (e.g., African-American, African, Pre-Columbian).
We seek an enthusiastic colleague with broad competencies that will allow work with faculty from other departments in our general curriculum and cross-listing of courses with our interdisciplinary programs (see catalogue: these include, for example, Women’s Studies, European Studies, Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, Media and Society). The Department encourages participation in Global Education programs. Ph.D. preferred, ABD considered.
The teaching load is five courses per year, one of which will be a 100-level survey course. Successful candidates will show an ability to offer relevant intermediate and upper-division courses, including capstone courses, and to participate in the First Year Seminar program.

Roman Architecture in the News!

I just forwarded this link to my Roman Art, Architecture, and Power class: Mysterious ‘Winged’ Structure from Ancient Rome Discovered. Oh – first off, they mean “building with wings,” not “Roman attempt at a flying machine.” But the archaeologist makes a good point, which I hope my group will pick up on:

“Generally speaking, [during] the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms,” said William Bowden, a professor at the University of Nottingham, who reported the find in the most recent edition of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group.
The winged shape of the building appears to be unique in the Roman Empire, with no other example known. “It’s very unusual to find a building like this where you have no known parallels for it,” Bowden told LiveScience. “What they were trying to achieve by using this design is really very difficult to say.”

Novelty and uniqueness are difficult to interpret!

Reintroducing Peak Carnivores to Britain

Bears, wolves, lynxes – yikes! Elk, beaver, cranes – hmm!
Not a new story (2010), but I was curious about whether or not Britain had ever had a large-ish cat, and was googling around. They did! There were lynxes until about 1300 — and there might be again. Lynxes eat deer, and the UK has too many of those (don’t we know about that problem here in Upstate New York!).

Omigosh! A adjectival use of “medieval” in the press that isn’t all that inaccurate!

This is unusual — a use in the media of “medieval” that is neither a Samuel Jackson riff nor a shorthand for “outdated.”

Printed newspapers may be in crisis in the West but circulations remain enormous in high-tech Japan – and its media will even resort to medieval methods to get copies to readers.
When the March 2011 tsunami struck a great swathe of the northeast coast, leaving 19,000 people dead or missing and triggering the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it also submerged theIshinomaki Hibi Shimbun’s presses.
The 14,000-circulation paper had the biggest story of its 100-year existence right on its flooded doorstep, but no way of printing it.
So its reporters did what monks in European monasteries did with the Bible in the Middle Ages and copied out their message to the people by hand.
(my emphases)

Of course, one might point out that the news was distributed this way at cafés in Western Europe well into the Modern era, but still.
via my Japanese-professor colleague.