A Student of History

November 30, 2007

College Football Diversion

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 5:46 pm

It is interesting to see how many of the teams in the pre-season poll are not in the top ten anymore.  See chart below.

In fact, some of them are not even ranked at all!  And notice that the current #1 and #3 teams (Missouri and Ohio State) are not even ranked.  Missouri did not even make the Top 25!

I think it demonstrates how weak is the foundation for determining teams’ worth.  Perhaps no rankings should come out at all until teams have played 1/2 of their conferecne schedules.

For the pre-season rankings click here.

Death for Teddy Bear Teacher

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 1:06 pm

This is why we should be very wary of who we let in to this country, or anywhere in the West:

Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear “Muhammad.”

The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gillian Gibbons, the teacher who was sentenced Thursday to 15 days in prison and deportation.

More here.

This Orange should be Crushed

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 1:02 pm

“The origins of the Orange Order may date from the 17th century battle for supremacy between Protestantism and Catholicism, but they have high hopes for this 21st century makeover.”  This report from the BBC is about Protestant attempts in Northern Ireland to create their own super hero for kids–based, of course, on sectarianism.  Just what the island needs…….

November 28, 2007

Lafayette Medal to be Auctioned

Filed under: Early America — John Maass @ 7:32 pm

Arnaud Meunier du Houssoy arrived in New York from Paris on Saturday to be celebrated at events in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and the nation’s capital to mark a season of Lafayette commemorations.

It is the 250th anniversary year of the birth of the Revolutionary War general, and a major new exhibition — “French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America” — recently opened at the New York Historical Society. Next month there will be a multimillion-dollar auction of a historic gold medal of the Society of the Cincinnati: an enameled patriotic badge created for George Washington that was presented to Lafayette in 1824 after Washington’s death.

“The medal has been kept in our family for more than 180 years,” the 48-year-old M. du Houssoy said, “but it was originally George Washington’s, and it belongs to America.” Six days before the Dec. 11 auction, it will be on display at Sotheby’s; on view in America for the first time since the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893 in Chicago.

The Society of Cincinnati Heraldic Insignia

Read on here.

Big Deposit

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 1:33 pm

A man in Aiken, South Carolina presented an unusual bill to a teller to open a bank account.  The teller was (naturally) suspicious, as it was a $1,000,000 bill.

The problem is that the federal govt. has never printed a million-dollar bill.   Above is a photo of the counterfeit paper, looks pretty cool!  Must have been created by a Guilded Age buff.

Where’s the “best” place to live?

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 3:18 am

According to something called the Human Development Report, Iceland is.

Here’s the whole list.  Of the top 20 nations, only Japan (9) is a non-western country, or a country founded by westerners.

November 27, 2007

“The Cure for All Our Political Calamities”

Filed under: Early America,NC History — John Maass @ 2:19 pm


An article I submitted in September to the North Carolina Historical Review has been accepted, and will be published in July 2008.  It is entitled “‘The Cure for All Our Political Calamities’: Archibald Maclaine and the Politics of Moderation in Revolutionary North Carolina.”  Maclaine was a moderate attorney from the Wilmington area, whose son-in-law George Hooper, a merchant, was a lukewarm Loyalist forced to leave the state in 1781 for his shallow support of independence.  Maclaine opposed such measures as property confiscation and banishment as punishment for loyalists’ activities, but faced staunch opposition from state “radicals” or “democrats” such as Thomas Person and Griffith Rutherford, whom Maclaine called “bloodthirsty.”

This comes from one of my eleven dissertation chapters, and will be the first of my work to see the light of day as far as publication.  I hope to publish one more chapter as well, and am waiting to hear about that one.  I previously published an article on N.C. and the Seven Years’ War in NCHR, back in 2002, so I am pleased to be working with editor Anne Miller again.

“This has nothing to do with free speech”??

Filed under: The Academy,The past that is still with us,The world today — John Maass @ 12:41 pm

As I noted here, two contoversial speakers were to speak at the Oxford Union yesterday, one of whom is David Irving, noted (and previously jailed) Holocaust denier.  The BBC tells us that “hundreds of protesters besieged the Union Society, furious at the decision to invite the leader of the far-right British National Party to speak there, along with a historian who has denied that the holocaust ever happened.”   Ultra right winger Nick Griffin was the other scheduled speaker, and he was “bustled in surrounded by a group of skinheads to protect him.”  As if that isn’t going to get folks ticked off, eh?

Still, where do we draw the line between unpopular opinions and preventing controversial people from speaking?  “This has nothing to do with free speech,” argued one protester, “it’s about giving credibility to fascists, making them appear to be part of the mainstream.”  Who decides that?  Its got everything to do with free speech, contrary to what this naive student shouted, but that does not mean everyone gets 30 minutes and a mike.  Leftists on American campuses routinely shout down conservatives such as David Horowitz, Jean Kirkpatrick, etc., and steal copies of right-wing student newspapers.  (Click here for example) That is surely wrong, although most of the time university officials do nothing in response.

The BBC goes on to report that “banners were draped over the walls surrounding the Union Society, bearing anti-racist slogans,” while chants reverberated through the narrow streets outside: “BNP – off the streets” and “Nazi scum – go home.”  Others, however, took a different tack:  One group supporting the event held a banner aloft bearing Voltaire’s famous dictum: “I disapprove of your views, but would fight to the death for your right to express them.”

Even then, the organisers decided to break it into two groups “for safety reasons.”  So the BNP’s Nick Griffin spoke in one room, while David Irving addressed students in another. Nonetheless, the Oxford Union Society is insisting the event was a success, albeit a qualified one.   President Luke Tryl said: “I think fascism is awful and abhorrent, but the way to take on fascism is through debate.

“War, Empire, and Culture” 2008

Filed under: The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 12:00 pm

The 2008 Texas Tech Comparative Literature Symposium on “War, Empire, and Culture”

April 11-12, 2008 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas

Proposal Submission Deadline: January 15, 2008

Whether calling it new imperialism or redefining it in terms of neoliberalism, the current war on terrorism has not only profoundly impacted American life and society, but it has also raised new questions on the function of war in constituting the American national imaginary and facilitating the American global vision. What effect does the preemptive war have on the concept of bellum justum or just war in the global context? How do we theorize wars, religious and secular, which have increasingly informed and reshaped our regional and global politics and environments, in relation to the U.S.-centered global order and global market? How do we understand the American and global “culture industries” that have conditioned both the acceptance of and resistance to wars?

This symposium looks for papers that investigate the political and economic dimensions of wars in American and global contexts as well as papers that explore the representation of wars in different cultural forms, genres, and media. We welcome both proposals that examine war as a process of nation and empire building and projects that offer innovative interpretations of cultural production that foregrounds the dynamics of war and its impact upon our life, society, and environment.

Possible topics may include but are not restricted to the following:
— The war on terrorism and the media representation
— The war on terrorism and capitalist imperialism
— The war on terrorism and the discourse of human rights and free market
— Religious conflicts between India and Pakistan, between Israel and Palestinians
— Racial and ethnic conflicts in India, Ireland, Haiti, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka
— Ethnic genocide in Darfur, Congo, Indonesia, and Turkey
— Religious and Racial conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Lebanon, and Tibet
— War Atrocities: the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanjing, My Lai Massacre, and Comfort Women
— War, colonialism, and neocolonialism
— War and American exceptionalism
— Nation building as empire building in the nineteenth century America
— Spanish American War and U.S. imperialism in the Philippines
— Mexican American War and the construction of the American Southwest
— Westward expansion and American frontier myths
— Casualties of war: displacement, migration, and expulsion
— World War II and Japanese American internment experience
— The American War in Vietnam and Hollywood cinema
— The American War in Vietnam and the reconstruction of masculinity
— The American War in Vietnam and Vietnamese American experiences
— War and Memory
— Women and war
— War and anti-war movements
— Drug wars in Latin America
— Cyber war and post-humanity
— War, technology, and discourse

Dr. Yuan Shu
Box 43091
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409-3091
Voice: 806-742-2501
Fax: 806-742-0989
Email: yuan.shu@ttu.edu
Visit the website at http://english.ttu.edu/complit/

Not great news…but an old expedient

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 12:00 pm

Two weeks ago, the Pentagon announced the “good news” that the army had met its recruiting goal for October, the first month in a five-year plan to add 65,000 new soldiers to the ranks by 2012.

But Pentagon statistics show the army met that goal by accepting a higher percentage of enlistees with criminal records, drug or alcohol problems, or health conditions that would have ordinarily disqualified them from service.

We should not be surprised by this expedient, as it has been used many times over in the past, going back to colonial times.  Old men and boys have always been resorted to when drafts and bonueses fail to bring men into the ranks.

November 26, 2007

Protests over Holocaust Denier

Filed under: The Academy,The past that is still with us,Wars — John Maass @ 10:49 pm

Is it right or appropriate for a major university to invite a convicted Holocaust denier to debate on its campus?  Many say no at Oxford.

In the face of angry protests, the Oxford Union debating society went ahead on Monday with plans for an evening debate featuring David Irving, a British author jailed in Austria in 2005 for denying the Holocaust, and Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, acquitted by a British court last year of stirring racial hatred.

The invitation to the two rightist speakers plunged the Oxford debating society into one of the fiercest controversies in its 184-year history. In 1933, it stirred anger in Britain with its notorious “king and country” debate, in which members voted they would in no circumstances fight a war against Nazism.  Although an independent body with no formal links to the University of Oxford, many of the union’s members are Oxford students, and many of the union’s leaders have gone on to prominent roles in British politics.

D. Irving

See also this follow article from the BBC.

Ulster-American Heritage Symposium-2008

Filed under: Historic Places,Ireland,The Academy — John Maass @ 5:39 pm

The Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster-American Folk Park, Omagh, is pleased to host next year the Seventeenth Ulster-American Heritage Symposium, 25-28 June, 2008, in partnership with the University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast and the National Museums and Library Service of Northern Ireland. Since 1976 the Ulster-American Heritage Symposium has met every two years, alternating between co-sponsoring universities and museums in Ulster and North America. Its purpose is to encourage scholarly study and public awareness of the historical connections between Ulster and North America including what is commonly called the Scotch-Irish or Ulster-Scots heritage. The Symposium has as its general theme the process of transatlantic emigration and settlement, and links between England, Scotland, Ireland and North America. Its approach is multi-disciplinary, encouraging dialogue between those working in different fields including history, language, literature, geography, archaeology, anthropology, religion, folklife and music.

The particular theme of the meeting in 2008 will be ‘Changing Perspectives, 1607-2007’ with the aim of presenting and exploring recent research that challenges habitual ways of thinking about the historical relationship between Ulster and North America over the last four hundred years.

I was blessed to have been chosen to be on the program at the 2004 meeting in Omagh, Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and had a wonderful time (paid for by Ohio State Univ., which made it even better).  I presented a paper on Scotch-Irish disaffection during the American Revolution in backcountry Virginia.

The Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster-American Folk Park, 2 Mellon Rd, Castletown, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT78 5QY.

Tel: .028 8225 6315
Fax: 028 8224 2241
Email: CentreMigStudies@ni-libraries.net

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