The more I consider Pat Buchanan’s comments–calling on snipers to shoot “coyotes”–the more I believe he would turn the border into a front. The notion that snipers would distinguish between the coyote and the illegal immigrant is absurd. Every person crossing would be a legitimate target. Moreover, their killing could not be described as an execution of the law (illegal immigration is illegal, not criminal). Unfortunately, so-called opponents of immigration reform will exploit the war between the drug cartels and the Mexican government to radicalize their agenda.
March 18, 2009
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Andrew Ross offers a useful guide to research at the Archives Nationales.
March 16, 2009
Andrew (who recently changed blogging abode) takes a little exception to my rants about Galactica. I think my frustration with the show is not unfounded. Andrew ought to share my frustration at the development of Gaeta. Yep, you can’t trust a gay man in the trenches, especially one that obsesses over his symbolic castration (loss of a leg). However, the show has suffered in its depth and complexity in more fundamental ways. It obsesses over backstory and beloved characters. “What is humanity” has been set on the back burner. Perhaps this is typical of a television show in its final episodes, especially science fiction.
The story arc, now referred to as the “mythology”, has become a cumbersome cantilever rather than a bridge. Much of the last “season” has been dedicated to rewriting the back stories of almost all major characters. Even in the last episodes, we are confronted with new aspects of personality drawn from a life that they ought to have left behind. It seems excessive to dwell so much on where they have been when where they are going has sustained the show (this ain’t 90210). Indeed, compelling aspects of the show have been left behind. Except for some trite conversations about the Admiral’s authority, democracy figures little in the arc. Religion has some place, but the only really compelling question that need be answered is why Kara Thrace was resurrected, which is itself sufficiently interesting. Religion, though, received deeper attention in earlier episodes.
The attention to Kara Thrace, though, has been part of a larger trend of the story arc: uncovering the “special destinies” of the characters. With all the retooling of the back story, the characters seem more like puppets than people with free will. And the people with compelling missions in life have turned out, more often, not to be human. Humans have become minor characters in a Cylon saga. (At least humans may decide for themselves that the hybridization of human and machine is worth saving, unlike Star Wars). If there is something compellingly human about the finale, perhaps it will be found in the Roslin-Adama romance, one of the few adult romances in Science Fiction.
March 7, 2009
A few years ago, I suggested that students pool together their documents in order to create a virtual archive–a digital replica of archives in other countries. At the time I was concerned for the cost of travel with the declining prestige of some branches of history as well as the declining value of the dollar. The global economy would be enough to make such a project more interesting. However, the recent collapse of the Historische Archive der Stadt Köln (HAStK) makes such an effort imperative in this one case. Those of us who have done research in Cologne know that is a unique resource. Many of us have been able to take images away from the archive–it was even facilitated by the nice, dark back room with the mount and perfectly attuned lighting. These images should be identified, collected, digitized (if necessary) and offered on line. The contents of the archive could made quickly available to other scholars, perhaps before German archivists can recover or replicate HAStK’s contents.
What should be done, roughly in this order:
- American scholars who have worked at HAStK should identify themselves (or should be contacted).
- Monographs and articles that are founded on research at HAStK should be cataloged.
- Scholars should produce lists of their personal holdings of images (digital, photographic, photocopied) by Bestand.
- A list of these holdings should be made available along with contact addresses.
- Copies of images should be assembled and digitized, if necessary.
- A site should be established to present these material publically.
We are often jealous of our research, as we often reach into our own pockets to fund it (at least in part). I think that German history would be set back if HAStK remains innaccessible.
March 4, 2009
I’m a little astounded to learn that the Historische Archiv der Stadt Koeln (Municipal Archives of the City of Cologne) simply collapsed yesterday, perhaps due to subway construction in the area. From the photographs, it looks like the front of quarter caved in (it is a square with a courtyard in the middle). To the right of the courtyard is where the reading room is. The collapsed part held, on the ground floor, the entryway, reception area and lockers–not necessarily a lot of people. But I don’t know where the files are physically.
The archive was unique–very different from other municipal archives I’ve visited. In my work I found records concerning Germany’s early nationalist movement (particularly the correspondence of the Reichenspergers), documents on the Catholic Democratic movement, and of course, the mayoralty of Adenauer. From what I can tell, the losses may not be extensive: copies of documents were held in another location in the Black Forest. However, it seems that Heinrich Boell’s papers were just purchased.
March 4, 2009
Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wasu, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag 15 others, including moi. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you’re it!
Not bad enough that I had to agonize over the definition of the list, I had to come up with 15! Anyway, here it goes, fifteen albums that changed my life, in chronological order that I heard them:
- Roxy Music, Country Life (All I want is you)
- Cocteau Twins, Treasure (Lorelei)
- Joy Division, Closer (non-album track Love with tear us apart)
- X, More fun in the New World (New World)
- Smiths, Hatful of Hollow (This Charming Man)
- Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill (Ballad of Mack the Knife)
- Thelonious Monk, Thelonious Himself (Round Midnight)
- Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime (This ain’t no picnic)
- My Bloody Valentine, Loveless (to here knows when)
- Mzwakhe Mbuli, Resistance is Defence (post prison interview)
- Spacemen 3, Perfect Prescription (Walking with Jesus)
- Sigur Ros, Svefn-g-Englar (Svefn-g-Englar)
- William Parker, Raining on the Moon (Corn Mothers Dance–on different album, but with Leena Conquest)
- La Bottine Souriante, Traversee de l’Atlantique
- Pete Seeger, Abiyoyo (Abiyoyo)
Perhaps a few comments are in order. Playing music for a long time, many of the picks are musical as much as lyrical, if not more. That’s probably why they spread out so well chronologically–they correspond to a different periods in which I explored new styles of music. Some albums I like more don’t appear. One album that got bumped was Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden (which would have been #6), because I decided Sven-n-Englar was more important, and for more negative reasons. The latter sounds like the former, which is ironic. But the process of finding Svefn-g-Englar was grueling in 1999, but something that I was accustomed to, given the nature of imports. I found this kind of fandom rewarding–scrounging for an obscure recording based on a five line review in a third rate magazine. But several years later, when everyone’s grandmother listened to the band, my efforts seemed less worthwhile or unique, so I gave it up. Now it’s easier to download. I would have never found my favorite album from last year by the means I used to employ.
Now, who to tag? Brandon, because he’s a good sport. Geek Lethal and Johno and everyone one else and Ministry of Minor Perfidy, because he needs to post soon. Joel, out of curiosity. And I’m going to tag back Andrew with a meme of my own:
Name five to ten books, albums or films that used to mean a lot to you, but that you have matured out of. Tag as many people as you want.
[ETA] I’ve added a few YouTube clips so that the selections don’t remain obscure.