Author Archives: mike

Performing Government in the New Deal

FDR, and the New Deal, were especially good at “performing” government. They even managed to stage a gigantic piece of “security theater” the gold vault at Ft. Knox. FDR had a genius for government as theatrical performance. In 1924, Congress voted to give WWI veterans a “bonus” as thanks for their service, payable in 1945. As […]

The Death of the Page

You can see it coming: “pages,” as a form of citation, are dead. And you can see why. With an electronic text, the reader can change the font size almost without limit. That makes pagination useless, and probably obsolete. In English “page” has multiple related meanings. The word can mean a young male servant as […]

The Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

The United States spends 663,255,000,000 on defense. It’s 43% of world military spending. To put it in perspective, our nearest rival,  China, accounts for only 6.6.% of world military spending. We spend over seven times more per year than our nearest rival. We were spending that much, roughly, before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–despite […]

Guest Post: Defending Current Practice

My friend and colleague Matt Karush has consistently argued that the present system has more merit than people like me want to recognize. I asked him to write a post describing his concerns, and so below, the first guest blogger at theaporetic.   As I have listened to some of my colleagues press for the […]

Academic Editor, 2.1

My post on “academic editing 2.0” generated some heat in the comments, and some misunderstandings. What I was proposing is actually really conservative, and aimed at preserving and strengthening the profession. Among the gamut of digital possibilities it would have to be counted as timid, modest and cautious. Let me try to be more clear. […]

Academic Editor 2.0

Continuing thoughts on what would professional associations 2.0 look like, what would the job of editing look like? Let’s look at what it’s like now. Right now the editor of, say, the American Historical Review gets lots of submissions. He/she reads them ( I assume) and then decides whether or not to send them to […]

The New Libertarian Mercantilists

“Mercantilism” describes the economic philosophy prevailing at the time of New World Settlement. One of the key idea of mercantilism held that wealth was finite. “Wealth” consisted of tangible physical goods, especially land and precious metals. The world contained only so much gold or silver, only so much fertile land or forests; only so much […]

The Marginalia “Crisis:” now with update!

Today’s New York Times has an article on marginalia–the scribblings people often leave on the edges of books. “Some fear dim future for notes in margins,” says the headline. “Some” may fear this, or it may be that “some, facing deadline pressure, invent fake trend story.” Marginalia is overrated, and the enterprise of loving marginalia […]

Collective Bargaining

The news is full of the Wisconsin showdown, where the governor and the GOP dominated legislature want to strip the right to bargain collectively from teachers and public employees, except for police and firefighters. There are a lot of odd aspects to the governor’s case. It’s odd that one side, known as “the State of […]

Professional Associations v. 2.0

I made a post criticizing the American Historical Association. Criticism is easy—what would I want a professional association like the AHA to do/be? The AHA originated in community building, both community in the sense of “bringing people together” and community in the sense of “keeping some people out.”  Professional Associations were originally ways for people […]