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Winston Churchill by Seymour Chwast, Push Pin Graphic #80, 1979, via the excellent Charles Forsman:
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The liberation of Paris in August 1944, featuring the column of Capitaine Raymond Dronne.
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Not to pat myself on the back, but I’ve become a somewhat better lecturer in the past couple of years. The improvement is mostly an outgrowth of comfort. I know the material well enough now that I can focus more on performance: projecting my voice with emotion, hitting the laugh lines, etc. At the same time, I’m able to build narrative arc in most of my lectures while maintaining analytical continuity.

This is all to the good, of course, but there is a problem: I fear that my course management may be slipping a bit. In short, as I’ve grown more confident about giving my lectures, I’ve become a bit less careful about making sure that my instructions for papers and other assignments are crystal clear; about clarifying for my readers and TAs, before they begin their grading, what I think constitutes an outstanding essay; and about making sure that classes begin precisely on time.

The thing is, I suspect that even though I’m more entertaining and maybe more edifying in some ways, my students would rather have me focus my attention on management and logistics. I don’t know this for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that I’m right. I’ll let you know after my course evaluations come in and are tabulated.

In some ways, this is just me musing as the end of the quarter draws near. But in others, I think it’s worth my remembering that teaching hinges on organization and attention to detail as well as deft presentation of information — or perhaps that these things are complementary. Probably everyone knows this already, and I’ve just embarrassed myself. (“Wait, I’ve had that piece of spinach in my teeth all day?”) But nobody ever taught me this stuff, so maybe it’s worth mentioning.

Spoiled for quadrangles by my past college experience, I could not help note on first study that the quad at UC Davis has no campanile or carillon; its clock chimes come from some hidden electronic facsimile. Its oldest buildings are the prosaically named North and South Hall, of 1908-12 vintage; most of what surrounds it are hunkering mid-century hit-or-miss structures.
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The Apple Store, King of Prussia Mall, Friday at 1 pm:


Taken with an iPhone, of course.

Under the title, “Watch this man,” the London Review of Books publishes Pankaj Mishra’s review of Niall Ferguson’s Civilization. The essay opens with a riff on the “this man Goddard” scene from The Great Gatsby, in which Tom Buchanan rails against the decline of the white man’s West. Noting that “Goddard” stood in for Lothrop Stoddard, the real-life racist, Mishra refers to the arguments of Ferguson’s first major book, The Pity of War, as “Stoddardesque laments about the needless emasculation of Anglo-Saxon power.” Mishra refers also to Ferguson’s “bluster about the white man’s burden.”
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UPDATE: Berkeley’s Academic Senate has amended its proposed resolution to exclude the “no confidence” provision.

Further on up the road, at Berkeley, Michael O’Hare has these things to say about Occupy in the context of the Academic Senate taking up a resolution of no confidence in the Chancellor there.
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From here:

On that site, students find 20-ounce Coke bottle labels with blank space where the ingredients usually are listed. Students can type test answers in this space, paste the label on their bottles and keep the bottles on their desks during an exam.

New (claimed) ingredients in Coke: antidisestablishmentarianism, the Versailles Treaty, isolationism, blitzkrieg, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the swinging sixties.

I’ve been listening to The Now Show on BBC Radio 4 since it began, which happened to be the first autumn I lived in England. Devoted readers of this blog will remember the time Mitch Benn showed up here, much to my delight.

So it was with mixed feelings I discovered that this week was the first time UC Davis cleared the Now Show threshold (in Josie Long’s bit, starting at 21:21).

To be honest, not so mixed: mostly deep unhappiness; this is also the first week I’ve seen UC Davis show up in a BBC headline. After all this time, with so many people working so hard to get UC Davis identified with serious research, this is what puts the campus on the international radar.

Average annual tuition and fees for California resident undergraduates at the UC.


Cosma Shalizi on turkeys and Pareto optimality. Happy Thanksgiving.

David Simpson of the UC Davis English Department (you know, that English Department) in the London Review of Books blog.

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Errol Morris writes, “For years, I’ve wanted to make a movie about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Not because I thought I could prove that it was a conspiracy, or that I could prove it was a lone gunman, but because I believe that by looking at the assassination, we can learn a lot about the nature of investigation and evidence.” He comes up with an “op-doc.”
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No, seriously.

9780809094776 jpgIn the spring and summer of 1900, bands of ordinary Chinese began to spread across northern China, protesting against and attacking the representatives of an imperial world that was remaking their country in the name of modernity and progress. The so-called “Boxers” were mostly leaderless and connected only by their shared desire to resist and rebel.

The empires fought back. Caught in the middle was the tottering Qing Dynasty of China, led uneasily by the Empress Dowager Cixi, who had dominated Chinese politics for half a century. Watching was the rest of the world, caught by the daily reports from journalists embedded with the western forces.

I wrote a book about that summer of 1900. Writing a book takes a while. There are numerous way stations. There’s the research and the writing, the research that results from the writing, the rewriting, the editing, the rewriting that results from the editing, and the re-editing. For most of that time, the project is essentially mine and mine alone, though I did share some of that process on this blog. Only towards the end of the project do I turn things over, to the editors, to the publisher, to Amazon, to the reviewers, and, most importantly, to the public. They make of the book what they can, what they want to, and what they will. By that final stage, it is more the reader’s book than mine.

So, I am now in that latter stage. The book–The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China– comes out in March of next year, but, with all the oddities of timing in the publishing world, the first review has already arrived, from Publishers Weekly:

Silbey’s concise, lively account of an early experiment in multilateral intervention analyzes the imperialist motivations that led a mixed army of eight Western nations into a brief but bloody military expedition to suppress the Boxer movement, which spread across the plains of northern China in 1900, lashing out at the foreign powers that had carved the country into spheres of influence as the Qing dynasty wheezed toward its decline

I like Publishers Weekly.

This was the chancellor’s address yesterday on the Quad. It may be that I’m being uncharitable, but I hear her invoking her experiences in Greece in 1973 as a way of claiming solidarity with the pepper-sprayed UC Davis students while expressing ostensibly genuine contrition over what happened to them. But then I juxtapose those sentiments, shared as they were through tears, with Eric’s post, which seems to indicate that Chancellor Katehi was one of the architects of a policy allowing the police back onto Greek campuses for the first time since the 1973 uprising.

John Quiggin writes about Chancellor Katehi’s role in the legacy of November 17, 1973.

Among the legacies of the uprising was a university asylum law that restricted the ability of police to enter university campuses. University asylum was abolished a few months ago, as part of a process aimed at suppressing anti-austerity demonstrations. The abolition law was based on the recommendatiions of an expert committee, which reported a few months ago….
Fortunately, my friend has translated the key recommendations

University campuses are unsafe. While the [Greek] Constitution permits the university leadership to protect campuses from elements inciting political instability, Rectors have shown themselves unwilling to exercise these rights and fulfill their responsibilities, and to take the decisions needed in order to guarantee the safety of the faculty, staff, and students. As a result, the university administration and teaching staff have not proven themselves good stewards of the facilities with which society has entrusted them.

The politicizing of universities – and in particular, of students – represents participation in the political process that exceeds the bounds of logic. This contributes to the rapid deterioration of tertiary education.

Among the authors of this report – Chancellor Linda Katehi, UC Davis. And, to add to the irony, Katehi was a student at Athens Polytechnic in 1973.

Nick Perrone is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at UC Davis. This is the speech that he gave on the Quad earlier today.

My name is Nick Perrone and I am a graduate student in the history department here at UC Davis. I am also the recording secretary for the UAW Local 2865, the union that represents the majority of graduate student employees across the UC system. So I am a student here, I am a worker here, and I am a union representative for my colleagues across campus, and I want to make a couple quick points.

First of all, the movement to occupy the Quad here at UC Davis is not an attempt to replicate Occupy Wall Street or any other movement. Students here at UC Davis and at universities across the country have been occupying administrative buildings and open spaces in response to injustices both on and off university campuses for decades. Chancellor Katehi has worked hard to try and characterize this current occupation as being influenced by “non-UC Davis affiliated individuals.” Let me be clear, THIS IS OUR MOVEMENT. Look around you, these are UC Davis students, faculty members and workers. Chancellor Katehi, just because our movement is growing, that does not mean that it must be the result of some outside influence, some “rogue element”. You and the regents that you work for have provided the fuel that drives the movement that you see today.

The second point that I want to make is that the police brutality we have witnessed over the past two weeks at Cal State Long Beach, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis is only a symptom of the privatization of these universities. Chancellors Katehi and Birgeneau want safe and inviting spaces on campus, but not for students, for private companies and corporations. When they suppress dissent on our campuses it is in the interest of privatization and clearly not student safety. We must be careful not to treat the symptom alone, but attack the disease itself, the disease of privatization.

Chancellor Katehi, we will not allow you, President Yudoff, the regents or anyone else to strangle the students at this university with debt and mediocrity while you simultaneously direct police to suffocate any remaining dissent. It is clear to us that you are no longer an advocate, you are no longer an ally. We need a chancellor who will stand with students against police violence. Our struggle is not your struggle. We want the rich to pay their fair share. We want to lower tuition, not raise it. We want to end the privatization of our university. And we want to stop the use of police to remove peaceful protesters on college campuses. Chancellor Katehi, you have lost the confidence of the students, the faculty and the workers on this campus and it’s time for you to go.

Sometimes you learn from your students rather than teaching them.

Everything happens in Time.
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