The president uses a fake Lincoln quote

Interesting analysis of a suspect Lincoln quote. If you like long footnotes, as I do, you'll like Schwartz's comments.

A new Lincoln movie

As Spielberg's Lincoln movie remains stalled, Tim Burton has taken up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a fan of the book.


Maryland secedes from Dixie

Thanks to the AP, this story is everywhere.

One of my pals, a native Oregonian, returned to the O-club at Ft. Benning from Aberdeen Proving Grounds with a shiner. He got it in a Maryland bar. This must have been the summer of '76.

Him: "Those people are rednecks."

Me: "Who, Marylanders?"

Him: "I couldn't believe it! I thought I was in the Northeast!"

Me: "Whadja do?"

Him: "I had a few and there was this guy with a Confederate flag patch and I said something."

Me: "Not even a girl involved?"

Him: "Just rednecks and me."

Here's the modern blogging equivalent of that idiotic conversation.

Here's a sourge of the past.

And you might not know that "Dirt Farming is currently the state's primary employment opportunity."

Just kidding! Amends to follow.

Note: My part, BTW, was spoken in the common accent of Baltimore-Phillly-Frederick-Lancaster-AC-Trenton- the very accent of the "rednecks" in question. I am a Marylander in speech at least.


Graduate school for history: not a good idea

Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go. Previously linked in this blog. "It's hard to tell young people that universities recognize that their idealism and energy — and lack of information — are an exploitable resource."

Letters about the article above. "...it was without a doubt the most destructive four years of my life. The introduction to academic politics and political correctness was shattering."

Just Don't Go, Part 2. "What good is professional training for a job that you are not likely to get, after a decade of discipline, debt, and deferred opportunity?"

Neither a Trap nor a Lie. "The kind of middle-class success that was assumed to come with graduate school in the humanities quite often cannot be achieved with a tenure-track salary, let alone adjunct wages."

The Big Lie About the 'Life of the Mind.' "Graduate school in the humanities is a trap. It is designed that way. It is structurally based on limiting the options of students and socializing them into believing that it is shameful to abandon "the life of the mind."

A series of articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education. For the law school side of the same coin, see Temporary Attorney. Interestingly, Sotheby's trains its own experts. There are some interesting possibilities beyond art history in that model.


Sesquicentennial boards

Well, the Sesquicentennial has found its Grant. Otherwise, the news is not so good.

Re-enactments that had been subsidized are being cut. In Virginia, good bye to Manassas summer camp; in Tennessee, farewell Blue Springs.

The inevitable irreconcilable differences are being presented as an "opportunity for dialogue" in South Carolina. This is not a band-aid that will stick for long. Perhaps the acrimony will become old news in a year.

Meanwhile, Sesquicentennial boards formed at the state level - I say this in all humility - are a disgrace.

As a onetime/longtime arts organizer it seems to me there are four levels of desirability in a board. You want a board stocked with money - people with money willing to spend on the cause or people with access to funding. On the second level of desirability, you want doers and achievers committed to the mission. Think of Romney or Ueberroth fixing the Olympics or Trump breaking the Rockefeller Center construction logjam. On the third level, you might want celebrities or politicians with access to publicity. On the lowest rung, you have "filler," people picked to fill out a board, either because no decent choice was available or to do a favor.

The states' Sesquicenteenial boards appear to be no meat and all filler. Here's the news from Kentucky. It's almost as if they have no idea what a board is for. (Hint: even a board with an "advisory" mission can and should move mountains.)

Here's another appointment from Kentucky - the state librarian!

In Iowa, they are cycling ineffective Lincoln bicentennial board members onto the sesquicentennial board, in this case a state senator. Here's how he wants to help: "He will assist in developing learning programs for Iowa’s youth about the Civil War." That has zero to do with board work; clearly the board will serve him (not vice versa) as a means to play teacher.

Kentucky has done the same thing: cycle a state senator off the Bicentennial board and onto the Sesquicentennial board.
"As a history buff, I am eager to begin planning the sesquicentennial celebration of Kentucky’s major role in our nation’s bloodiest war,” said Yonts.
Wrong answer! Any buff can plan. the board is not there so your innermost dreams as a buff can be realized. Here's the correct answer: "As a legislator I am committed to finding funds for every worthy project this board approves."

Well, if you're going to stock Sesquicentennial boards with hobbyists eager to spend other people's money on their own pet notions, you might want to do what Mississippi has done. Protect yourself from the board that you appointed by funding nothing. You deprive the Sesquicentennial of a state budget. Whew! Bullet dodged.

This inspiring display of near sanity (hey, board members - you need funds, get out and raise them) does not quite offset the fact that someone seated a bunch of plush toys at the board table.

More disturbing is the rum still served out of the heritage toursim punchbowl. Vicksburg is seeing year-on-year declines in tourism and its solution is to spend more to build additional attractions. Actual headline, folks:
Vicksburg Tourism: If you build it, they will come
And here's a great quote from Columbia, Tennessee:
I think we should start promoting the Civil War Sesquicentennial and building hotels to hold the tourists.
Whoa! Maybe you want to stock your boards with the right sort of people before you build those hotels.

Photo by Tiare Scott.


It isn't their music

That era when everyone played an instrument, when every little town had an opera house and hosted nightly travelling shows, when the appetite for sheet music made music publishers rich and live music provided so many livings -- yes that era continues to be dumbed down to the pathetic level of our present generation by musically impoverished "educators" who promise to initiate one and all into the glories and mysteries of their special brand of Camptown Races Doo Da music.

It's a fake genre designed to make even school kids feel musically superior. But the Civil War music lover functioned at a level we can barely understand. We're the ones eating goober peas, not them, and goodness, how delicious to our modern tastes.

This could be harmless fun if we would just leave the Civil War generation out of it.

Ken Burns

He's the gift that keeps giving. This is my exact idea of the people he brought into Civil War readership - the people publishers chased after all those years in preference to us. His influence is in decline but it lingers, clearly.

Old Baldy's restingplace

You can't just move a stuffed horse's head from one museum to another: "Last week, a plan for Old Baldy's move was submitted to an expert at the Academy of Natural Sciences for approval."

Someone wrote a plan for the moving of a stuffed head. Someone else is reading the plan. A momentous decision is pending. A decisive memorandum will be composed and distributed. Headline, please.





Last train from pop historyville

The scandal surrounding the pop history tome Last Train from Hiroshima continues to spread.*

The author claims his book has a problem with just a single source; HuffPo digs deeper and finds problems with the man (who among other things claims to be a defrocked PhD).

Not only has the publisher ceased sale of the book, but in its issued statement, pointed towards an authorial coverup: "Unfortunately, Mr. Pellegrino was not able to answer the additional questions that have arisen about his book to our satisfaction."

The readers of this blog routinely subject their fare to "very detailed scrutiny." I don't see experienced Civil War readers being bamboozled by authors relying on single or made-up sources. On the other hand, that general reading public that gobbles up so much of the effluvia issued by talespinners, that reading public seems to need some kind of publishing FDA to protect them from reading impurities. And so, from HuffPo: "Holt publicist Nicole Dewey declined to comment on whether Last Train had been fact-checked."

That last sentence is worth a hundred posts. Maybe, I'll write one, for as the wise man says, "The journey of 100 posts begins with ..." Meanwhile take a look at the relevant Amazon comments. Eighteen five star ratings and eighteen one-star ratings. The one-star ratings seem news driven, while the five stars seem enjoyment related.

A five star rater: "... nothing is more real than this book." Or less real. Doesn't matter, really.

Another: "A big warning; the power of Pellegrino's pen will leave indelible impressions in your mind." Wrong warning!

A four star rater: "As a reader this novel is very intriguing." Fiction, nonfiction, at the end of the day, they're all books.

Sorry to get quippy; the spirit of infotainment seized me.

*HNN has yet to take note of it; as deeply committed to political punditry as they are, these doings must appear trivial compared to health care, stimulus spending, and other such "historical" topics.


May I offer you an "Assassination Sandwich"?

Pop historians

It's a shame that the 98% wind up giving the decent, hardworking 2% such a bad name.


Virginia's Sesquicentennial

The Virginia Sesquicentennial mounts its second event, another seminar. Look at the description: it seems lame to me.

This non-Sesquicentennial event offers better value.


Another bad sign for heritage tourism

The history center had hoped a Civil War re-enactment last November at Myers Park in McKinney would raise $50,000. Instead, the event lost $7,000, worsening the museum's outlook, Day said.