Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Save our Astrodome!

The good folks at Greater Houston Preservation Alliance have been fighting for several years now to save the Astrodome. They have an an economically viable, preservation-minded, 100% privately funded redevelopment proposal for our eighth wonder of the world. As you might guess, there are a lot of politics involved...

Anyway, show your support for the redemption of space and the preservation of historical sites by signing the petition on the GHPA website. (Please note that there is a donation request at the end of this petition, but that you DO NOT have to donate to iPetitions in order for your signature to be recorded.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


The only radio station I can get clearly on my radio in the mornings is a crappy, top 40 type station. I turn it on for noise and this morning heard a seriously disturbing commercial. It was for HD radio (I think) and it was narrated by the old radio, that complained how the owner didn't "touch his buttons" the same way, and it suspected cheating. As if personifying a radio isn't enough, they had to make a gross sexual innuendo.

I'm usually hyper-aware of the sexually explicit nature of advertisements, particularly when it has nothing to do with the product (which is most of the time). Bikini-clad models have nothing to do with a Ford Focus, and shirtless firemen have nothing to do with selling toothpaste.

Beyond the obvious sexist and denigrating nature of such ads, they just lack creativity. I actually think advertisers resort to sexual innuendos when they are out of ideas. It's so depressing that original ideas and the creative process are so lacking. Ads that do actually say something positive or funny are the ones I appreciate anyway.

(Consumerism is a separate discussion... I'm simply referring to the quality of our commercial intake)

Top 100 Ads

(not surprisingly, few are any good...)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seeds of Peace

from James...

Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Monday, January 07, 2008


One of these days I'm going to learn to follow directions. I am actually better at navigating public transportation than anything else... on foot is the most frustrating b/c re-tracing steps takes so long. The NLM is inside the NIH, which is about as huge at the TMC (now I'm just using acronyms for no good reason). So I got off the Metro and promptly went the longest way possible to the library, and went in the back and had to take a tunnel... it was an ordeal. I also got lost inside the History of Forensics exhibit, when I was trying to take a shortcut (why do I do this to myself?). Creepy!

So I'm getting pretty good at this all day archival digging. It helps when you work with nice people and especially helps when you're really patient, because nothing ever goes as planned. I was in the reading room with about 6 ph.d.'s doing research, and one 13 year old kid with his dad. He (the kid) was researching civil war medicine. Obviously.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Apparently even historians like to shop. Or they like to buy books at half price, because there were a slew of them in the exhibit hall today. I tried to talk one publisher into giving me an advanced copy of this great book, but no dice. I walked away with 6 books and I was happy with that (especially for the price).

The session I attended discussed new paradigms for the global history of medicine and public health, which was quite interesting particularly in light of the global AIDS pandemic. Reconceptualizing the way we study the history of disease could potentially impact the way we seek to cure it.

I spent time with my historian friend at the National Geographic Center and taking pictures at the White House for her kid. Then I got horribly lost trying to make it to the National Cathedral for a Eucharist service. I actually just gave up, and met my friend for Ethiopian cuisine and chocolate cake.

Tomorrow I'm going deep into the archives, so let's hope that goes well...

Saturday, January 05, 2008


It's the weekend?

After a short night's sleep (thanks in part to a false fire alarm in the middle of the night), I made it to a breakfast a few blocks away at 8 AM. Not my ideal hour of the day! It was especially difficult to be alert enough to interact with people. But I persevered. Then I attended a session on the decline of the secular university... arguing that many universities are exclusive because they ignore the Judeo-Christian, Roman, Greek, Hebrew, and other religious influences on western academic thought. It was pretty interesting. Then on to a lunch meeting that lasted several hours.

I had an interesting conversation with a woman today who was raised Southern Baptist, converted to Episcopalian, and now teaches in a Quaker school. Women in ministry came up, and she pointed out that people are quick to explain away the verses that support slavery, or tell us to be poor, but cling to the verses that might seem to suggest that women should not be in public ministry.

I took the afternoon and evening off... Conferences are so great but so exhausting. It's a lot to take in and a lot of energy all at once. So I'm resting up for another big day tomorrow.


De facto/de jure segregation was neither de facto nor de jure. Discuss. I love panels like this, that debate language and deconstruct accepted frameworks. Basically, these panelists argued that there’s too much Southern exceptionalism in the discussions surrounding Jim Crowe and desegregation. It actually got me thinking about re-framing the borders of my own dissertation study. Drat.

One of the benefits of organizational membership is networking with important people. Sometimes no one outside the organization cares, but in this case, you may actually be interested. One of the staff Congressional historians (there’s only four) is a member and arranged a private tour for a few of us to see the Capitol. It was awesome. You haven’t seen a major historical site until you’ve seen it with a group of historians.

Two things were exceptionally cool… First, we got to go on the floor of the House. I sat in the second row! I might actually watch the State of the Union this time… It’s easy to forget about the separation of powers in our government given the intense focus on the executive branch, so it was cool to see all that up so close.

Second, we got to see the new Capitol Visitor Center, which will open in November 2008. It’s still under construction but is primarily finished, so it was really nice to see it before it all gets crazy. We also got to see the new Congressional Auditorium, which won’t be open to tourists. It’s a 450 seat theater type room that the House or Senate can use (and the Library of Congress, actually). Hearing the politics of all that went into creating the visitor center and the museum was fascinating, especially from two historians who were part of the process.

I went to the graduate student reception for the food, but didn’t eat enough, so I went to get French toast. Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things in life. I don’t know why. I also met up with a friend from Iowa and some of his colleagues. We discussed the importance of Pietism, the nuances of Anabaptists in England, and the definition of the emergent church. I tried to tell them there wasn’t much of a definition for the latter (that’s kind of the point), but I tried my best. I’m pretty sure they now think that my church worships icons, discards I Corinthians, and has more staff than congregants… none of which are true. Oh well, what can you do?

Friday, January 04, 2008

LK Goes to Washington, Thursday

I'm in our nation's capitol attending the AHA, the largest professional historians conference. I rolled out of bed at 5:45 and left in sweats 15 minutes later to catch a flight... So I arrived to the conference hotel a pretty big mess. I always feel like a little bit a poser at these things, so it was important to make an entrance...

This is by far the biggest conference I've attended. I received the program in the mail a week ago, and it's roughly the size of a phone book. The intellectual exchange is crazy. And it's a funny subculture--a bunch of academics so completed interested in little tiny pieces of history (like myself). On the elevator I told my friend that almost an hour had passed since I heard the name Foucault. Everyone laughed. The father of postmodernism must be mentioned as much as possible! One woman suggested we make a drinking game out of it, take a shot every time someone says Foucault. We abandoned the idea because we would get alcohol poisoning.

I attended a session on African Americans in asylums (uplifting, I know) and finished the evening with dinner at an organic Indian restaurant. I shared a two-hour meal at Taste of India (not to be confused with Little India, right next door) with two colleagues I never see, even though we live in the same city. We had this great conversation deconstructing the Christian faith. It was 27 degrees when we walked home from our after dinner coffee shop... way too cold for my tastes!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year(s)

Time to replicate a dream and
Move forward,
Knowing that I am so undeniably
Not alone.
All this cyclical patterning
Of time and understanding,
And I feel more at peace
With myself.
The Peace You have given.