A semester of learninating

I’m currently enrolled in three classes this semester. Here they are as a breakdown and how good they are:

American Ways of War: Sorry, Kevin, no Victor Davis Hansen*. In actuality, mentioning Hansen’s name generates a violent, unpleasant reaction to most historians. Part of this is due to the instantaneous and unavoidable hatred of any and all authors who actually make money at writing history; most of the time that’s legitimate, as popular history = bad history. Charitably Hansen is characterized as best a huge over-generalization, at worst he’s directly blamed for some of the deaths in Iraq and other places (not entirely without justice, but a bit over-the-top, all the same).

So what is the class actually about? The tradition of irregulars in the American military, by which the course appears to focus on rangers, special forces, and Indian fighters. It’s designed as a counterpoint to Russ Weigley’s The American Way of War*, who essentially states that all American military development prior to the Mexican War was bunk. (More on bunk later.)

*For the record, I haven’t read either book. Hansen I’ll think about, Weigley probably not. But we’ll see.

Historiography — Ah, yes. The history of history writing. (Even better, a text for another course is the history of historians writing about history.) This course is essentially designed to teach one about the various approaches to history and how to be good at it. It’s necessary and surprisingly not dry. It helps my advisor is teaching the course, but he’s the most engaging of the three teachers.

Approaches to Security Studies writing — See above, but with less day to day work (hurray!) but a more involved final assignment (boo!).

I’m also putting together my committee for my PhD… even though I have to pass the coursework first… and the preliminary exams. But I’ve got two of the four I need (I’m sure about one, 90% about the other).


Alaska is next to Russia (more Palin but from a different source)

I haven’t weighed in on the VP discussions, mostly because A) VPs only primarily help with electability and winning elections and B) I basically trust Kevin’s opinions. However, I found this article pretty funny, which I found courtesy of FJM (yes, I only read politics third hand through FJM; what of it?!?).

As an attack on Palin, I have to admit it’s pretty fucking stupid. It makes Cindy McCain kind of silly, but I’m imagining it’s taken out of context. (This is why historians and journalists are at odds; historians can’t stop putting things into context, even when it’s a bad idea.) More to the point, at least according to this article, the basis of the attack is that Sarah Palin has no foreign policy experience. Oh, if only her running mate had — wait, what? Oh, she’s McCain’s VP, that’s right! I’m pretty sure John Kerry attacking anybody for anything nowadays pretty much ensures success for that person.

Runaways Monday

Vacation time is over and it’s back to the daily grind, so what better time to talk about a great band?

Aside from the Sex Pistols, my favorite ’70s band is probably The Runaways.  The combination of young Joan Jett with Lita Ford was fantastic, and so I honor the Queens of Noise (well, the female version at least; Freddy Mercury may have wanted that title…) with YouTube goodness.


Wasted 1977


And finally, the song that most anybody who remembers the Runaways will remember:  Cherry Bomb.