January 16, 2017

Let slip the dogs of plague.

Hi all, 

Two days past due. Roasting all the pumpkins and squashes and sweet potatoes in the house, & stashing the puree in the freezer. Filling vases and changing sheets. Reading more Tana French; waiting. 

i. Things I've been reading on the Internet. Henry Cowles, in Aeon, on early 20th-century child psychology's articulation of the scientific method. Alia Hanna Habib, in BuzzFeed, on growing up part of the not-white working-class in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Justin Clark, in The Baffler, on evolving social perceptions of lying and dishonesty across the 19th and 20th centuries. L.D. Burnett's post for the Society of US Intellectual History's blog, on talking to students about historical thinking and historical inquiry, gave me wistful classroom thoughts. Emily Nussbaum, in the New Yorker: "How Jokes Won the Election." 

ii. Deeply-held beliefs. Sarah Galley wrote this post about the eugenic thinking she sees behind conservative advocacy of the ACA repeal, for Chuck Wendig's blog terribleminds. She calls the present-day mindset "class eugenics," which is an interesting twist on the early-20th-c eugenic stance, which (correct me if I'm wrong) would have seen poverty as the result of biological inferiority (a la the Kallikaks), not the proof of it. I'm interested in seeing this conclusion drawn out further; if anyone's seen the angle explored anywhere else, please inform. 

iii. Things I've been reading, in book form. There has been a lot of couch-sitting lately, and while my reading time had been devoted to books serving a big forthcoming work project (to be announced this week!), that's pretty much over now, and I've been picking things off shelves randomly. Yesterday I started Chris Wickham's Medieval Europe, a survey of the period that came out last year, and it's written at just the level this ignoramus Americanist can appreciate: solid discussion of major themes, interspersed with some lively glosses of historiographical debates and a sprinkling of stories.

And I finished Richard Adams' The Plague Dogs the other night, having downloaded it after he died a few weeks ago. The novel is about two dogs who break out of an experimental testing facility in England's Lakes District, and their desperate flight over the mountains, as they are pursued by farmers, the press, and eventually the army. It's a survival story, and a polemic, and an experiment in conscious anthropomorphism; one of the dogs has been the subject of neurological experiments, and his subjectivity has been deeply altered. Snitter is all mixed up, with his instincts pointing every which-way, and his voice is very cleverly executed, and totally heartbreaking. 

iv. Ahahahahah. Ahahahahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahah. Let's let Stevie sing it instead

He could be 88, 

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