Swipes #49: Thorny Situations

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Swipes #48: History repeats itself repeatedly

Some political cartoonists have drawn parallels to the (not that there is only one homogenous) American Indian experience:


Victor Gillam, “Speaking from experience. (Through Professor Macaroni’s wireless telegraphy) – American Indian (to Filipino) – ‘Be good, or you will be dead!’” Judge. Circa 1899. As seen in The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons.


“PROPHETIC — Big Injun: ‘I see Your Finish.’” Walker, LIFE, 1899, as seen in The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons.


Thomas Nast. “Every Dog (No Distinction of Color) Has Its Day,” Harper’s Weekly. 8 February 1879.

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Stanford University Field Trip

Recently saw two exhibits at Stanford University:

From ‘Curios’ to Ambassadors: Changing Roles of the Daggett Collection from Tribes of the Lower Klamath River” at the Stanford Archeology Center

Red Horse: Drawings of the Battle of the Little Bighorn” at the Cantor Arts Center

Didn’t take any pictures of the drawings, as no photography was allowed, but I did get some photos of banal colonialism in action at the nearby train station…


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If you find yourself in Chicago this month…

I’ll be giving two talks at the Newberry Library:

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The first will be at the 19 May 2016 Chicago Map Society Meeting at the Newberry Library: “‘Peoples of the Edge:’ Map Cartoons of Newfoundland, 1948-1949.”

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The second will be at the 20 May 2016 Newberry Seminar in American Art and Visual Culture Seminar: “Islands in the Inset: Representations of the Territory of Hawai’i in Carto-Caricatures (Map Cartoons), 1893-2011.”

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Rich Thoughts

“…the repetitious cycles of laundry, the night-wakings, the interrupted moments of peace or engagement with ideas, the ludicrous dinner parties at which young wives, some with advanced degrees, all seriously and intelligently dedicated to their children’s and their husband’s careers, attempted to reproduce the amenities of Brahman Boston, amid French recipes and the pretense of effortlessness…. I did not then understand that we–the women of that academic community… were expected to fill both the part of the Victorian Lady of Leisure, the Angel in the House, and also the Victorian cook, scullery maid, laundress, governess, and nurse. I only sensed that there were false distractions sucking at me, and I wanted desperately to strip my life down to what was essential.” – Adrienne Rich in Mother Reader: Essential Literature on Motherhood

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Zines & Comics

It’s been a while, apologies, etc.

Two things to share:

The Grand Newsstand is an awesome little kiosk selling zines on Market Street in San Francisco. If you are ever in the city, you should definitely check it out.

Bitch Planet is an amazing comic book series. A friend sent me one issue as a joke, but it is a very compelling universe with thought-provoking stories and character development. Definitely recommend.

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Thanksgiving Post

It’s a nice one – go check it out. :-)

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A Lament on Academic Spec Work: * Cry Cry *

Here is a piecemeal rant about the unpaid nature of so much (all?) academic work. (Here I am referring to the Humanities as I know it, though I am well aware that science is full of its own never-ending-post-doc-fueled nightmare job/less scenarios.)
A friend, HH, recently sent along a great comic about asking for free or “spec” work:
(Excerpt respectfully linked back to Maki Naro’s full piece, “What Happens When You Ask a Cartoonist for Free Work?” from 17 August 2015.)
The email immediately following hers in my inbox was from a list-serv and included the following call for — perhaps you guessed? — academic spec work:
I removed the name of the society because it’s not particularly relevant. This kind of call for submissions, blog posts, and other forms of academic labo(u)r go out All. The. Time. but nobody has made a great comic explaining why this is a crappity crap method of exploiting intellectual work.
The FAQ at nospec.com reads, in part:

What is spec work?

Basically, spec work is any kind of creative work rendered and submitted, either partial or completed, by designers to prospective clients before taking steps to secure both their work and equitable fees. Under these conditions, designers will often be asked to submit work under the guise of either a contest or an entry exam on actual, existing jobs as a “test” of their skill. In addition, the designers normally unwittingly lose all rights to their creative work because they failed to protect themselves by means of a contract or agreement. […]

Why is spec work unethical?

The designers in essence work free of charge and with an often falsely advertised, overinflated promise for future employment; or are given other insufficient forms of compensation. Usually these glorified prizes or “carrots” appear tantalising for creative communicators just starting out, ending with encouraging examples like “good for your portfolio” or “gain recognition.”

Their questions regarding the pursuit of unpaid labo(u)r fit academia quite well with only a few tweaks (underlined – changed from artists and visual creativity to academics and written expression):
  • Will I equitably pay a researcher for the work rendered as if they were hired under contract to do the same thing?
  • Will I negotiate proper compensation for the usage rights commensurate to the scholar’s level of skill?
  • Will I return the working files and usage rights to all submitted writing?
In conclusion… maybe all academic work is spec work. I say this not only because of the competition mentioned above from some academic history society, but because a scholarly CV (or at least a so-called “good” scholarly CV) includes lots and lots of unpaid writing. Better yet, it sometimes includes your writing that you have to pay to see.
I don’t even have access to an article that I wrote!
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) is now BPW;DR (behind pay wall; didn’t read)
Laments about graduate work are prolific and painful. As medium.com commentator EC so succinctly and articulately wrote:
grad fuI’ve pointed this out elsewhere, but it is hilarious when schools post positions for adjunct instructors to teach courses on Social Justice.
come on
Are you kidding me? You’ve got to be kidding me. Even the Jesuits are doing this! Come on!
Plenty more ranting on the topic of unpaid academic labo(u)r as spec work is possible, and likely necessary, but perhaps scratching the surface here will help others be a bit more aware of the issue and–perhaps–encourage some pushback to the many list servs, calls for papers, employment hopportunities (where you have to hop to it with little or no compensation), and journal submission processes that favo(u)r those who are unpaid and otherwise ill-served by the practice of spec work.
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Everything you never wanted to know about parenting

This is a deviation from the regularly scheduled programing about map-related research, but I did promise tangents in the blog byline… We will return to our regularly scheduled programming sometime – likely after this tiny mammal in my house turns 18 and heads off to McGill.

Having now read every book available in the English language on infants, I can tell you that only one of two anecdotes will emerge from any attempt made by any parents to do anything:

(1) We tried this one trick and now our baby sleeps 13 hours at night with two 3 hour naps during the day! Also does math! And light housework!

(2) I nursed him on demand around the clock and now his spouse is ambivalent about bedsharing with the mother-in-law 32 years later.

Some other great excerpts:

  • “Don’t allow your bedtime routine to last more than 45 minutes.” (WHAT HAPPENS AT MINUTE 46?!?! I’ll just assume that everyone spontaneously combusts.)
  • “You have to use sunscreen!!!!”
  • “Never ever ever, under any circumstances, use sunscreen. Your baby has a Vitamin D deficiency. I can tell, from looking out of the page.”
  • “Duct tape your baby into the crib.”
  • “Never even consider using a baby cage or anything other than organic free-range duct tape, you monster!”
  • “If you don’t let your baby cry it out for 10 hours, they will never learn to self-soothe.”
  • “If you let your baby cry it out for 10 minutes, you will give them PTSD.”
  • “Whatever you do, be consistent!”
  • “Try different approaches until you find one that works.”
  • “Your baby is too young to sleep 8 hours straight.”
  • “Your baby is too old not to be sleeping 6 hours straight.”
  • “You’ve given that baby a sleep disorder. Just give up now before you ruin things further.”
  • “One time, this one thing happened when a baby was 2 weeks old, and that baby grew up to be Prime Minister / a serial killer / a star athlete / a master chess player / a real creep / way too into Star Wars. Can’t possibly be a correlation! Must be a causal link.” (Pediatricians are especially great at drawing these types of data-based conclusions.)
  • “Breastfed babies have an IQ 1000 times higher than formula-fed babies.” (The pediatrician who actually said this to me clearly wasn’t too familiar with the IQ scale, which only goes to 11.)
  • “Formula-fed babies are 1000 times faster and wittier than breastfed babies.” (Omigod, why are people so invested in policing other people’s decisions!? Babies Need To Eat. Full stop. Unless you are feeding them thumbtacks, you are probably doing the right thing. If your pediatrician recommends feeding them thumbtacks, maybe you should think about finding a new one. Don’t take my advice – I am just thinking out loud over here.)
  • “You shouldn’t read other books about baby parenting because they’re too prescriptive. You should buy MY book though because it is in no way prescriptive as long as you follow these 8254 easy steps to cultivating a happy, healthy, non-mutant child.” (What’s with the mutant shaming?!)
  • “Night nursing will give your baby cavities.”
  • “Anyone who says that night nursing will give your baby cavities is a lying piece of sh*t and you should burn their house down.”

So, basically, as long as you always/never do everything/nothing, you should be fine/everything will be terrible.

All these “experts” drive me up the wall. Remember, “expert” is just another word for “@$$hole with a book deal.” Don’t even get me started on blogs and Facebook groups on any remotely parenting-related topic. People with keyboards are just @$$holes with keyboards. #mommywars

Lots of the books are written by pediatricians with x years of experience and x number of children (usually a different x-value). I find their appeals to the authority of “I am a pediatrician and parent” particularly galling because I don’t know your kids! For all I know, they are tiny terrorists! Why would I take advice from you, rando?!

On the other hand, when I call my aunt with four kids or friend who’s an OB, I appreciate and respect their anecdata because I know those kids are nice or that our friend wouldn’t give us wantonly terrible information. Thanks for all that, friends.

The most important things people have told me that I would like to highlight thus far (what are we, 100-odd days in? Expertise-sharing time!) in the parenting process are:

TRUST. Trust yourself. Trust your baby. Trust your instincts.

When I first read advice to “Trust your instincts,” I was like “WHAT INSTINCTS?! I DON’T HAVE ANY INSTINCTS!” Yes, yes, you do. Any parent who is paying half a percent of attention has instincts.

Not “I can anticipate my child’s every want and need because we are psychically linked” instincts (which is kind of what I thought I was supposed to be doing / feeling), but “Hey, he’s getting squirrely, it’s been a while since he napped, and every other status marker (food, diaper, etc.) is dealt with, so he must need a nap again” instincts.

You know stuff. Follow your heart. Do the stuff.

CONFIDENCE. This ties in to trust yourself. You don’t have to listen to anybody else. Yeah, your kid might not wind up going to McGill, but that won’t be because you swaddled her or let her cry for thirty seconds. It will be because you DIDN’T BREASTFEED or DIDN’T FORMULA FEED (whichever one you are doing is the wrong one, unless you are doing both, in which case you are twice as wrong).

All families are different and all babies are different. Unless your baby is the 50th percentile of ALL THE THINGS, and generally very middle of the road (and even if they are!), then some things will and won’t work (or even fit) for you and your baby at different times (swaddles, swings, newborn size onesies, whatever!).

As one friend told me, as long as you take all of the knives out of the crib, you’re doing okay.

Remember, the charlatans selling books on infant sleep aren’t real prophets–they are preying on your sleep-deprived self and auto-filled credit card information. After all, Jesus wasn’t a Bible salesman.

SUPPORT. SO MANY of these stupid, stupid, stupid child rearing / sleep training books are like “Well you really want to kid out of your bed so your partner can stop sleeping on the couch. Your partner has needs, too, you know!” ‘You gotta put that baby down for naps so you have time to clean the house and make dinner.” “You are a failure as a human being and a terrible wife / mother / doormat.”


What has been helpful is the amount of support we have gotten from family, friends, and, yes, hired help (let’s give a big woohoo for postpartum doulas!). Living far from family with a new baby is hard, but we have had so many great visits from helpful family members and friends, we have great local friends supporting us, and we have a postpartum doula. Plus we have each other, which while a very wishy washy thing to point out, is apparently not the case for 99% of parenting book writers.

If your family suuuucks, then I am sorry, but hopefully you can hire help! If not, ask around your church or join an online support group or, last ditch scenario, call the fire department.

CONSISTENCY. Babies literally just got here. They have no idea what’s going on. Bed time might sound a little post-Industrial Revolution, but having a consistent routine (versus maybe an EXACT schedule) seems like it can really help babies (and probably kids, but who knows anything?! no one).

Adults dig rituals, too, if you think about it. Wake up, have a coffee. Get to work, check Facebook. Patterns, habits, whatever you want to call it, seem to be a thing for which humans have an affinity.

Considering that your tiny mammal is going to grow 10-40 times their size by the time they’re done baking (assuming a 10 lb baby who grows up to be 100 lbs or a 5 lb baby who grows up to be 200 lbs), their bodies are changing every minute of every single day, so knowing that you will read them a story and then put them to bed can be one thing that kind of barely helps them hold it together during the otherwise traumatic experience of LIFE.

If you are INCONSISTENT one day, that is okay, too. Cut yourself some slack. Everybody is like “no has to mean no, don’t even give in once!” and that is very good advice, but if you can’t follow it every second of every day, it’s okay. Tomorrow is another day. You have time to straighten things out and if something’s not working, you can always try something else! I mean, maybe my kid is going to be pretty messed up, so don’t trust me – just trust yourself and don’t feel bad unless it makes you feel good to do so (which seems like it might be oxymoronic, but you do you).

PATIENCE. Babies don’t always care that you’re being consistent. They have youth, adorableness, and surprising pinching strength on their side, but you have the greatest tool in the parenting arsenal: patience. You can just wait for them to accept things (putting them in a car seat, taking them out of the bath, going to sleep).

You can help and encourage them to accept things (doing homework, eating vegetables), but waiting it out can work just because you have an iPad with a backlog of Dr. Who episodes and they don’t. (Unless you gave the baby an iPad in which case see “they are never getting into McGill,” above.)

That’s it. The five easy (or not so easy) tips that I’ve culled from family, friends, and an array of stupid, stupid, stupid parenting books.

May the wind be always at your back, etc.

Go forth and kick ass.

Special thanks to EM, TM, RY, EC, KP, LK, JKZ, TP, and all the other great parenting role models out their for their support, hilarious text messages, and frequent delivery of burritos.

Please send more burritos.


Here’s a great link from JH: “New Parenting Study Released” by Sarah Miller, 24 March 2014, The New Yorker.

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Remembering 13 September 1759

Bill Nye's Comic History of the US

With an excerpt from Bill Nye’s Comic History of the United States (1894, page 120-122):

In 1759 General Wolfe anchored off Quebec with his fleet and sent a boy up town to ask if there were any letters for him at the post-office, also asking at what time it would be convenient to evacuate the place. The reply came back from General Montcalm, an able French general, that there was no mail for the general, but if Wolfe was dissatisfied with the report he might run up personally and look over the W’s.

Wolfe did so, taking his troops up by an unknown cow-path on the off side of the mountain during the night, and at daylight stood in battle-array on the Plains of Abraham. An attack was made by Montcalm as soon as he got over his wonder and surprise. At the third fire Wolfe was fatally wounded, and as he was carried back to the rear he heard some one exclaim,—

“They run! They run!”

“Who run?” inquired Wolfe.

“The French! The French!” came the reply.

“Now God be praised,” said Wolfe, “I die happy.”

Montcalm had a similar experience. He was fatally wounded. “They run! They run!” he heard some one say.

“Who run?” exclaimed Montcalm, wetting his lips with a lemonade-glass of cognac.

“We do,” replied the man.

“Then so much the better,” said Montcalm, as his eye lighted up, “for I shall not live to see Quebec surrendered.”

This shows what can be done without a rehearsal; also how the historian has to control himself in order to avoid lying.

The death of these two brave men is a beautiful and dramatic incident in the history of our country, and should be remembered by every school-boy, because neither lived to write articles criticising the other.

Five days later the city capitulated. An attempt was made to recapture it, but it was not successful. Canada fell into the hands of the English, and from the open Polar Sea to the Mississippi the English flag floated.

What an empire!

What a game-preserve!

Florida was now ceded to the already cedy crown of England by Spain, and brandy-and-soda for the wealthy and bitter beer became the drink of the poor.

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