Hey Malkovich, Think Fast.

I have been seriously amiss [um] in acknowledging the [somewhat disconcerting] distinction that friends & gentle readers of CM have bestowed [in service of a meme (those things are still around? {apparently})]: It makes them think.

Mucho thanks, folks. As a meme, it has some rules. Like linking to this post and listing five bloggers who make me think. Well, that’s easy enough: e., who I can’t believe I have yet to meet; juan who I have met and can confirm is a scholar and a gentleman; angry arab, who amazes me with his wit; joshua, who will be no surprise to anyone but still; and zp, whose posts I look forward to like none other. Ok, now I can go back to my no-meme rule.

Reading Manifestos

Some while ago, I wrote up my thoughts on being public intellectuals in the new digital age. I had always meant my ‘manifesto’ to serve as an introduction to a larger piece on digital history – that I would try and get published. I wrote parts of this larger piece and presented it at a conference in Madison – but I have been severely distracted since then. And, it may have sat unfinished forever.

But recently, I got an email from Paula Petrik, Professor at George Mason University and a true inspiration for us digital historians, that she had assigned my manifesto to her graduate class, History and New Media, and that her students had responded enthusiastically. First of all, let me just ask history teachers everywhere to visit that class site and go over the syllabus to see a great example of successful incorporation of blogs/digital media in the class.

With some trepidition, I visited the class blogs to see what they said. You can read Bill’s Waiting on Abdulhamid II, Jenny’s History Polyglot: How to Translate or Interpret in a Digital World, Historiarum’s I’d Love to Take a Public Beating, Misha’s Thank you, Sepoy, and Laura’s Three Cheers for Digital History. I found the comments to be probing, provacative and interesting and it made me realize that I really need to finish the second half of the manifesto.

But it wasn’t until I read that the good people at Progressive Historians – a ribald bunch of troublemakers, also liked the manifesto that I really cemented my resolve to write this weekend.

Long Live Digital History.

We Heart OBaMaRaMaMaMa

Fully Clothed ObamaWhile CM was being hacked, some of your correspondents ended up getting hijacked by the trendiest new web presence in town, my.barackobama.com. Within moments of the site’s inception, we began to feverishly collect friends, join groups and start movements. But now that the site is already five days old, the bloom has faded from the rose and we are ready to come home. We are not sure if, after all, we wish to be part of a nationwide email conversation about how much, how very very much, we want our guy to kick the cig habit, or how it might be fun to have a ginormous sixty minute conference call with fellow supporters across the nation.

We still love the man, and it being Valentine’s Day, we’re here to express that, despite concerns about his handling of the whole madrassa issue, and other worries yet to be discovered. So in honor of his dignity, which is being vigorously shredded from all sides, we’ve gone photoshopping for a pretty new t-shirt to help him cover his nakedness, since he is still apparently somewhat miffed about the People mag papparazzo shot. As in the sad tale of the toothsome Gavin Newsom, who learned too late, after being caught with his pants figuratively down, that all those hair gel articles recalled a simpler, happier time, the Obamalator needs to understand that he should count himself lucky when he has only been exposed literally.

CM Back

CM has been broken for the last month. Maybe you noticed? And I have been in less than optimum health during that same period. I kept making stabs at fixing it – the DNS registrant mess, the hosting company mess, the recreation of the backend db mess – but, I would run out of energy or the world would run out of time.

Take, for example, the day I tried to get the DNS resolved:

920 receive email that chapatimystery.com’s transfer is blocked. the site is still broken
924 call customer support at 1and1.com.
924-49 on hold
950 explain my problem. am transferred to billing.
950-55 on hold
956 explain my problem. am put on hold.
956-1014 on hold
1015 explain my problem. am put on hold.
1015-1040 on hold
1041 explain my probem. am told the problem is not w/ 1and1.com but with bluehost.com
1042 call customer support at bluehost.com. am told not their problem, call 1and1.com
1044 call customer support at 1and1.com. am put on hold.
1044-1130 am repeatedly transferred between 4 different departments.
1130 am told that “wait for 12 days and your problem will go away. If not, call back”.

And so it went. This is well after my problems with globat.com, my host. Let this be a lesson to kids out there. Pick a good hosting company. You can get out of marriages with fewer emotional scars.

But, it is all settled and done. Of course, the XML export made gobbledygook out of my squiggles category. That remains to be fixed.

Lest this post remain utterly boring, here is a conversation I overheard and, subsequently, recorded in an email from the same day as the transcript above:

Person 1: “The CIA is looking for Arabic linguists. Especially to send to Afghanistan”
Unknown Male1: “The CIA is doing a great job. But why would anyone want to go to Afghanistan. That is the most fucked up place in the world. The people are savages, really. Their culture is in the Stone Ages.”
Unknown Male2: “It is really sad that these Arabs and Persians have such a backward society. I mean, India or Pakistan, which one is next to Afghanistan? They have their widows burned after the death of the husband”
Unknown Male1: “Yeah. I heard that in Afghanistan, they shot little boys and girls, EVEN THEIR OWN CHILDREN, who look at each other at the playground.”
Person2: “You know, there are other cultures. And they have various values, we should recognize…”
Unknown Male2: “NO way. I dont care about that. If it is fucked up, it is fucked up. That story about widow burnings? The British ended that. You know how? This one General was riding by and saw a widow about to be burned. And he asked them to stop. And they said, it is their cultural heritage. So he said, ‘look. i respect your culture. you can do as you please. but you will have to respect my culture too. In my culture, I have to build a gallow right here and hang you for murder’. And that cured widow burning from India”.

And that’s lunch hour. That day went on to become a truly memorable one.