Monthly Archives: October 2010

Poor Richard’s Tweets.

Twitter marks the return of an old literary form: It’s a model Ben Franklin used to help bring the community of the American revolution  into being. I resisted Twitter for a long time, as I’m already too easily distracted. It’s obviously great for networking and sharing links. But it preserves the form of working without […]

Peer Review and the Public Sphere

Peer review has not only served us badly: it’s cost academics more and more cultural authority. The general public, having more sources available online, is less willing to trust experts, and  sees peer review as akin to the monkeys in Kipling’s Jungle Book: “We all say so, and so it must be true.” Kathleen Fitzpatrick […]

What to do with an out of print book?

Trying to figure out what to do with my out-of-print first book. Kindle Ebook? Or just give it away on a different platform? Some of you out there may find/have found yourself in the same situation. My dissertation was published in 1990 as Keeping Watch: A History of American Time. It was initially published by […]

Big Academic Conference–Shoot Me Now!

You drew the Sunday morning session. There are a dozen people in the room, panelists included. Through the open door you see people rushing by, rolling suitcases behind them, heading to the airport. The panelist next to you bulldogs along, head down, reading word for word. Soon the commentator will gamely attempt a synthesis, and […]

Virginia and the Black Confederates

Recently the news was full of the fact that VA’s fourth grade history textbook described large numbers of black men serving in uniform for the confederacy. The claim is these slaves were loyal to their masters and fought to preserve slavery. This is simply absurd: it’s wishful thinking. It’s true that late in the war, […]

Which Project Should Mike Do?

Hello, fellow historians and the history-minded! I made a longish post about digital publishing and peer review, and now I have to put up or shut up. I want to want to conduct a research project equal in “mass” to a journal article, and post it online as I go. I’ll have to rethink the […]

Googling Peer Review

Who is not ambivalent about peer review?  On the one hand, it establishes a basic, reliable level of quality in argument and in evidence. On the other, it grinds everything down to a bland sameness. Peer review assures professional standards are met, and also enforces orthodoxy. Anonymous peer review prevents intimidation: anonymous peer review allows  […]

Economics of the Great Compression

After getting a lot of generous and smart comments on my initial post about compression and mid scooping I decided to take another crack at it. The basic fact, described here, is that modern commercial music is heavily heavily compressed and has its midrange scooped out. The question I’m looking at is why. The late […]

More on Reenactors

There’s been a lot of blog traffic about GOP candidate Rich Iott dressing as a Nazi to bond with his son. As  far as I’ve been able to tell, the best defense of his action is that it’s all in the service of education and it’s no different from dressing as a Nazi to be […]


so apparently a candidate for Congress in Ohio likes dressing up as a Nazi.  I’m probably not the only one who finds this deeply creepy. I‘ve been trying for years to resolve what I think about reenacters in general. Are they creepy wanna-be Confederates? or people who genuinely love history and want to immerse themselves […]