Thursday, April 26, 2007

my own little carnival

Last day of class! Still have finals to give, papers to grade, etc. etc. But, today is my last day of class for Spring semester 2007!

"How are my favorite students?" I say that a lot at the beginning of class sessions. Students who have me for more than one course, or who were in a previous class of mine, realize that I say that to all my classes. (Well, most.) "So, Dr. Parker, really, who are your favorite students?" "My favorite students are the ones I have at that moment."

Which means, in a few days, I'm not going to have any favorite students, not for three whole weeks!

oh boy oh boy oh boy

Anyway, here are some neat things I've seen lately on the web-- my own little carnival, from my own little blogroll.

Field Negro says, "I wish I was a white person's pet."

Over at Playing School, Irreverently, Profgrrrrl tells about a colleague who apparently is being sued by a student who wants an A. Interesting comments.

Kevin, at Civil War Memory, has a good review of the History Channel's new documentary on Sherman's March.

My favorite Elementary History Teacher reminds us why it takes a very special person to teach in the public schools. See her 13 Episodes I Had Today..... Can You Figure Out Why I Had Good Cry?

Finally, Boston 1775 has a series on the Liberty Tree Flag. Today's installment: What Could Nine Stripes Mean? Read it and you'll see why I like J. L. Bell: he's not only smart and well-read, he can make anything interesting.

OK, I have to run. Did I mention that this is my last day of class?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Better Day

A new blog, just up, by a former student of mine: A Better Day. Kinda makes a man proud, to see this sort of thing....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Talladega Nights and Stephen Prothero

I finally saw Talladega Nights last night. When Ricky Bobby says grace at the dinner table, he prays to the baby Jesus, prompting a discussion (from this page; wording is pretty close, if not exact):
Carley Bobby: Hey, um... you know sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don't always have to call him baby. It's a bit odd and off puttin' to pray to a baby.

Ricky Bobby: Well look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I'm sayin grace. When you say grace, you can say it to grown up Jesus, or teenage Jesus, or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want.
Today, in class, we're talking about Stephen Prothero's American Jesus.

I love it when stuff comes together like this.

Friday, April 20, 2007

hiding sermon notes

I'm reading Debby Applegate's The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, which just won the Pulitzer for biography.

Applegate says that Beecher, early in his career, used small pieces of paper, cut to fit into his Bible, so no one would know he was using notes when he preached. My father did the same thing. Dad used onion-skin paper; when his Bible was closed, the notes were invisible. I wonder if they taught that in seminary?

Bill and me

A few days ago, somebody told me I look like Bill Gates. I'd rather have his money than his good looks, I said.

But really, I don't see it. That's Bill Gates on the right, me on the left.

I heard a story about a guy named Stan at a conference where Bill Gates was speaking. After Gates's talk, Stan approached the front of the room and asked Gates if, as he left the room in a few minutes, he would walk by him and say Hi, just so Stan could impress his friends. Gates said he'd be happy to help him out. So, Stan and his friends are standing at the back of the room, Bill Gates walks by, smiles and waves and says "Hey, Stan, How are you?" and Stan says, "Shut the hell up, Gates, I told you not to bother me any more."

Anyway, I wonder if Bill gets that? "Hey, you look like David Parker."

Actually both pictures above are of Bill Gates. I look like this (or rather this is what I looked like one hot day last summer when I was looking too much toward the sun, apparently just after a rather severe haircut). Nothing like Bill Gates.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I've got the "when will it all end" blues

We're about to enter the last week of the semester, and it's neck-and-neck: who's more anxious for the end of the term, students or me? I'm pulling for me.

Tonight, a break to catch up on some things at home, with and a couple of Southpaws. I'm just working through the list, from Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" to Terry Reid (the Lord of Rock), to Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Dwight Yoakum, with a little CCR, Hot Tuna, and It's a Beautiful Day thrown in.... I'm feeling better, and just waiting for the weekend. It's all good.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

You can get anything you want....

I was at the Old Buttonwillow Church Civil War Dinner Theater in beautiful downtown Whitwell, Tennessee, this past weekend. I mentioned something about the church in "Alice's Restaurant." Blank stare. Sigh.

Here's a nice version Arlo did about 30 years after the original. I like it because he adds a nice Nixon story at the end. It's 22 minutes long, but hey, what else are you going to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's all my fault....

Each of my classes had a major paper due earlier this week. And there has been an alarming rash of major illnesses and car wrecks among my students and their loved ones in the past week. I sometimes think the world would be a safer places if we didn't assign so many papers.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Milledgeville in the Spring

I started to title this “GAH conference report,” but then I figured folks would go right past it.

The annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Historians was this past weekend in Milledgeville, a beautiful town I had never visited. The ride there on Friday morning was as pleasant as any I’d had in a long time-- getting out of that Atlanta-area traffic, driving down highway 441 through Putnam County, “Dairy Capital of Georgia”-- the fields, the cows, the pecan trees, very pretty. About two Baptist churches every mile.

Milledgeville is fairly small, easy to find your way around, whether you’re driving or walking. I arrived at 10:30, too early to check into the hotel or register for the conference, so I drove around and ended up at the old Georgia Capitol. (Milledgeville was the state’s capital from 1807 to 1868.) The capitol building is now part of Georgia Military College, but the bottom floor is devoted to a museum of regional and state history. When I walked in, I was alone, no one there (that I saw) except Grant Gerlich, the exec director, and one of his staff. Grant reminded me of the Maytag repairman, sort of lonely, waiting for a call. He didn’t say so explicitly, but I got the idea that the Old Capitol Museum, as it’s called, doesn’t get a lot of traffic, and that’s a shame. It's worth a visit. Its American Native section is especially impressive.

Then, check in to the hotel and off to the conference. I got there just in time for the first round of sessions. I went to “Holocaust Fatigue: Is the Holocaust Losing in the Classroom?” The participants were from Kennesaw State University’s Holocaust Education program, and the session was quite thought-provoking--about how we teach not only the Holocaust but other subjects, and the differences between education in the classroom and in museums.

Second session, I went to “Politics and Law in the Antebellum South,” with papers on poor whites in Georgia and on Georgia’s opposition to the Tariff of 1828. The first, by Keri Leigh Merritt, was based on some impressive research in court decisions concerning vagrancy cases. The second, by Donald Clanton, suggested that the reason Georgia didn’t go along with South Carolina’s nullification of the tariff was to stay on Andrew Jackson’s good side, so he would carry through on his promise to get rid of the Cherokee Indians. I'm not fully convinced, but the notion is very interesting. Merritt and Clanton are both MA students, and they showed that grad students, even in the early stages of their research, can present at conferences such as the GAH and be not only welcomed but appreciated.

After a break, the evening plenary session, featuring Arnita Jones, executive director of the American Historical Association, speaking on “Trends in the Historical Profession.” It was a good and informative talk, but it got off to a funny start. After the program began, but before Jones was introduced, a cell phone went off in the audience. Great, I thought; we get mad at our students when this happens in the classroom, and here we are doing it ourselves. And then, two or three minutes later, another phone went off! There was laughter, and folks were probably wondering, as I was, why, after the first incident, everyone didn’t check their phones to make sure they were turned off. Then Jones started speaking, and guess what happened. Yep, it sure did.

Second day, I skipped the first morning session (I know, bad boy) and drove around town. My session was at 10:30. I talked about Georgia-born writer Marian Sims as an early “revisionist” novelist. Also on the session was an old friend of mine, Catherine Oglesby, who has just submitted a book manuscript on another Georgia writer, Corra Harris. Cathy talked specifically on Harris on race and the Lost Cause. She’s been working on Corra for so long, writing and presenting, that when she said “Harris was best known for her 1910 novel A Circuit Rider’s Wife,” I wondered how many times she has said and written that sentence. It was a good session, thanks in part to the good audience that attended.

Lunch/final plenary session: The chicken tasted funny, everything else was OK. My Kennesaw colleague Tom Scott had arranged the program, which featured two famous Georgia historians, Tom Dyer and Edward Cashin, talking about their “Lives in History,” as the program was titled. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish my students could have heard Cashin talk about historic myths-- how they come about and what uses they serve.

One of the best things about these conferences is being able to see and catch up with folks.

Anyway, that’s how I spent my weekend.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Kevin Levin and our Civil War program

Kevin Levin, over at Civil War Memory, has just proven (if there was ever any doubt) that he is a gentleman as well as a scholar. I told him about a great Civil War symposium we're having here at Kennesaw State University in May, featuring George Rable, Victoria Bynum, Kenneth Noe, and LeeAnn Whites (how's that for a lineup?), and he posted an announcement on his blog to help publicize it.

Civil War Memory is both thoughtful and accessible; I urge readers to check it out.

And if you can make it to northwest Georgia the first weekend of May, join us for a great program!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Ashes in the news

Scotty's are going into space; Keith Richards snorted his dad's.

Fiesta de Tejas

Yee Haw! The first Fiesta de Tejas! is on the web! So says Ed Darrell over at Millard Fillmore's Bathtub. That's right, the inaugural edition of the blogosphere's newest carnival is up, and it's a dandy.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sunday morning reading

colonial dentistry-- Every day this past week, J.L. Bell, over at Boston 1775, has posted a new piece on colonial dentistry. (I'm not going to link to the individual articles; see entries for March 26-31.) Very interesting (as is everything J.L. does).

I got a haircut recently. Hardly newsworthy, but I'm going to a conference next weekend, and I wanted to look good. Except this turned out to be perhaps the worst hair cut I've ever had. But even as J.L. was writing about colonial dentists, I was visiting one--well, not a colonial dentist--for my regular exam and cleaning. So at the conference, people will say, "Did you see Parker's hair? What a mess!" "Yeah, but his teeth looked good."

Civil War photos-- Retouching History has a good piece on "The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph," about "a Civil War-era posed studio photograph of unidentified black Union soldiers with a white officer.... The studio photograph has been deliberately falsified in recent years by an unknown person/s sympathetic to the Confederacy. This falsified or fabricated photo, purporting to be of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards (Confederate), has been taken to promote Neo-Confederate views, to accuse Union propagandists of duplicity, and to show that black soldiers were involved in the armed defense of the Confederacy."

"inefficient" history-- Eric L. Talley, an economist at UC Berkeley, has published a disturbing study that shows the study and teaching of history to be "inefficient." He concludes that educational resources should be directed elsewhere. (hat tip, for this and the above, to Ralph Luker)

Georgia Carnival-- And while I'm referring you to other sites, let me urge you to check out the latest Carnival for Georgia Bloggers. Among the treats you'll find is The Best Wildflower Walk in Georgia, with some of the prettiest pictures I've seen in a while. I know someone who would love that waterfall.