Over the weekend I spent a few hours talking to two old friends, Robin and Jackie, at the local café. We had been students at UMass-Amherst, where we earned our MAs. Both will defend in a few months and go on the hunt for jobs. Just as any other gathering of nerdy grad students, we talked about academics and history: the fate of UMass, the value of the history of commodities, where our research is going, the job market (a subject I normally avoid).

Robert Moog died — Oscar Chamberlain has a brief history of Moog’s inventiveness, including the creation of the synthesizer.

Le Monde has been running a series of articles, “1905, l’année des tournants”, which examines the year 1905 as a decisive moment of modernity (Einstein, Sartre, Jaurès). Yesterday’s article discussed the 1905 law of secularization in France — the law that has become the burden of French politics as they attempt to assimilate immigrants from Islamic countries today. The article argues that the law was, at the time, not the rupture as seen today, but the culmination of French democracy’s promise — the end of its maturation.

[Added:] Ever wonder what “Love will tear us apart” would sound like by a Tuvan throat singer?