Same look, new server

The Aporetic is back! At a new server. My university kicked me off the university server, which is probably good because there was sometimes political stuff and there might be more.

Your author has been going like gangbusters of a new book, on a topic that surprises him.

I’m writing a biography of Frances O’Neill, who left Ireland in 1867, at age 17; sailed around the world, was shipwrecked once on a guano island, herded sheep in the sierra foothills, taught school in rural Missouri, and ended up a cop in Chicago, in 1873. He was shot in the shoulder a couple weeks into the job. They never managed to remove the bullet.

He rose to Chief of Police by 1901. On the way he saw the Haymarket riot, the Pullman strike, and the Columbian exposition. He arrested Emma Goldman, the anarchist. Then let her go, because she was innocent.

He was obsessed with music, and as he walked the beat he heard people playing tunes from every county in Ireland. He began to collect them, and eventually in 1903 published O’Neill’s Music of Ireland. He published a few more books after that.

He’s often described as the “savior” of Irish folk music. He has a statue near his birthplace

It’s an interesting life but I’m not sure why I’m interested. Partly it’s immigration. We are supposed to hate immigrants. It’s hard to convey how degraded and oppressed the Irish were in the 19th century. A poverty stricken people, despised; truly a subaltern people. I look at the guys outside Home Depot, waiting for work, and I see my own Irish immigrant ancestors. I wanted to write about immigration.

Also the incongruity–doing police work, breaking the heads of strikers, while dreaming about folk music at the rural crossroads. What was it about Chicago life that made him want to collect tunes? Catalogue them?

I’m six chapters in of a projected seven and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m doing. If you google O’Neill you’ll find a fair amount, mostly the same stuff repeated. I hope I’ll be able to add something new

Lovesick Indeed

This fleeting moment’s viral video involves an 11 year old kid from rural Illinois, Mason Ramsey, who apparently likes to go to Walmart and sing in what the internet is calling an old-fashioned country style. Here’s Mason, and an article on Mason in Slate. The kid is singing an imitation of Hank Williams, who recorded […]

Who’s a racist?

So recently we’ve seen two really remarkable examples of obtuse, stupid, clownish buffoonery on the subject of race. First scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy suggesting that “the nigroes” would have been better off under slavery, when they learned to pick cotton and could be with the families and had something to do.” Second is the remarkably […]

Historical Convention Merch

After the most recent OAH a friend a colleague, Adam Rothman, suggested a line of T-shirts. We came up with a few ideas. Feel free to add your own.

Blogging and the return of the repressed

Earlier today I was at an OAH roundtable on blogging as scholarship. There were a number of distinguished bloggers there (Anne Little;  Kenneth Owen; Benjamin Alpers; John Fea), all of whom blog in very different styles. The audience was great. I thought I’d post some of my argument about why blogging is valuable as scholarship: […]

What do we mean by “racist?”

The term gets used all the time. Ed Kilgore, at Talking Points Memo, says “you don’t have to be a racist to practice racism.” This makes zero sense to me. What is racism? How is it different from prejudice or bigotry? My answer is pretty simple: a racist is a person who believes in the […]

It was misrepresented

Last week I made a post about the UNC student who allegedly received an A- for a 146 word plagiarized paragraph on Rosa Parks. I thought it smelled funny. Yes athletes are allowed to dodge hard college work–who doesn’t believe that? But this just smelled “off,” for the reasons explained. Well it turns out it […]

This is a fake

So recently ESPN  did a story about big time college athletes and academics. Exhibit A was a “paper” allegedly turned in by an athlete at UNC. The paragraph, on Rosa Parks, allegedly received an A- Here it is: The internet agrees: this is an outrage. I agree too. This is an F in a class […]

Corporate Hobbies

The Supreme Court seems poised to radically revise American corporate law, by entertaining the idea that a corporation can have religious beliefs. (Theaporetic is not a corporate lawyer, so if any reader has more accurate knowledge he welcomes the correction to what follows). Hobby Lobby, a privately held corporation, objects to the fact that Obamacare […]

So are there any good historical movies?

Mr smarty pants critic, theaporetic, thinks Twelve Years a Slave is a bad movie, and thinks he proved why, without having actually seen the movie, quite an absurd position indeed. Criticism is easy–are there any good historical movies? Theaporetic, having a nine year old child, does not go to the movies much because babysitting. But […]