Randomness (Happy Canada Day & Fourth of July)

How Hot Is It In Ontario Right Now?
“It's hotter than a bull's balls when the summer stalls” as we say out west.  (Actually we don't say this out west – I just made it up.  If somebody did say this, I have a strong suspicion that a guy in a cowboy hat would beat them up.)  Renee provides a Westerner's perspective on that unique Ontario heat in a couple entries on her blog.  Her entry about what a Humidex is and why western Canadians are unfamiliar with them is particularly funny.

Statement of Intent Trackback
Quinn posted his own Statement of Intent that he wrote for his MLIS application on his sexy, newly redesigned blog and as he says, looking at his and mine side-by-side, it's interesting to see how two people take different approaches the same question.  To me, it's even more interesting to see how, although they're very different in tone and format, we're actually doing similar things – name-checking our previous work experiences and personal abilities, our connections with librarians/researchers, showing our familiarity with both the MLIS program and the issues of librarianship and so on. 

I know this is a long way off right now but if anybody who's applying to the MLIS program finds this page in September for the next intake (or at any point in the future), I'd love if you could leave a brief comment so I know if you found these examples useful (and if any other classmates are thinking about it, I'd encourage you to post your own Statements of Intent on your own blogs then e-mail me and I'll add a link to them here.)  I know I would've loved to see two (or even more) examples of what people had written for their Statements of Intent when I was trying to write my own.  Quinn also mentioned posting some of his other application materials which I think is a good idea as well. 

Cantilever Update
The idea of sharing our writings sort of ties into the idea of Cantilever, the open-source journal for student writing we were thinking of starting.  It's in a holding pattern right now as the main instigator went off to Ottawa and got himself a job.  But I still think the idea's a good one.  Although I recognize the value of the assigned readings by various scholars, I feel I have often learned just as much, especially about cutting-edge issues or local or niche issues from reading other student papers.  Having a resource like this, perhaps even part of the department website, perhaps even integrating two different aspects of our training (ie. write a paper in 501 and post it as a 505 assignment) is a great one.  I wonder if any other library school has thought of that? 

Wikipedia as Historical Document
Christina sent this link to our 525 mailing list but I think it deserves a wider readership.  Wikipedia has so many interesting questions surrounding it and one of these is how does it handle history – a field that is traditionally dominated by single, authoritative authors (even compared to the hard sciences where multiple-authored works are much more common.)

Break the Fast Club
Last semester, after our first breakfast meeting as mentor-mentee, Sabina, David and myself ended up making this a weekly gathering with us as the regulars and a few others popping in and out as well on a recurring basis.  We've sort of let it slide this summer but got together again today along with a guy who went through the MLIS program, is currently working at the Grad Club and had the extreme misfortune of getting hit by a bus (!) while riding his bike last week.  He's very lucky to only have a broken foot and a few other scrapes and bruises, especially considering he wasn't even wearing a helmet.  He and his girlfriend were the ones to join us today and it'll sound sappy but it made me think about how quickly things can change and how lucky we are to have the people in our lives that we do. (Uhm, it also made me appreciate a restaurant that has skillets on the menu.)

Library Students As Secret Strippers
That heading is going to look a lot more scandalous than it is as I have no dirt to dish on the topic.  Sabina and I walked up to the school after breakfast and after doing a couple hours of work (if work = trying not to fall asleep while doing management readings), we decided to go for beers at Christina's Pub (the Grad Club was closed) and managed to talk Mike Thibault into coming as well.  It's a long story (not really but I just don't want to tell how we got on the subject!) and somehow we ended up speculating about who in library school (male and female, students and profs) would make good strippers.  Needless to say, it was a very fun discussion.  Also needless to say, my name did not come up in any way, shape or form as a contender for that crown.

“No, But I've Dabbled in Pornography”
From the heat of bull's balls to strippers to pornography, what's got into me today?  Anyhow, I hope Quinn doesn't mind me relating one of the funniest anecdotes from last semester – especially since he was only an innocent bystander.  It began when a bunch of students in our cohort went to the Grad Club early in term.  As we left the bar at the end of the night, a classmate ended up walking next to some of us and asked in a cautious whisper, “Did you hear what Quinn said?” 
“Well, it was kind of loud in there but I could swear he said 'I've dabbed in pornography.'”
(cue confused/amazed/curious looks all around)
Reactions include: “Really?”  “Maybe you misheard?” and most interestlingly,  “Oh, I could see it.”
So anyhow, this comment stays as a simmering rumour for a week until someone finally confronts Quinn.
“Were you a porn star in Vancouver?”
“Last week, you said that you'd dabbled in pornography.”
(Quinn thinks about it briefly.)
“No, I didn't say that.  I said I'd dabbled in photography.”
“Oh, I see.  Uhm, carry on…”

So for his new blog (with hopefully more regular updates to come) and for his fictional career in porn, I'll give the infamous Classmate of the Day Award to Quinn

Comments 9

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    I think I will leave the “pornography” comments to speak for themselves… no need revisiting that very odd situation.
    As for the application materials, you could not be more correct about the potential effect of offering these materials to those in the future. I have completed two SSHRC grant applications in my days (one sucessful, one not), and during this time I learned a lot but was sad to discover that there are very few materials out there for writing applications. I think I will start a page compiling some of the resources I have used in the past (perhaps Jason can cross link the materials so we get maximum coverage). I will post up some of my other examples as well as a few formal tutorials and papers (written by experts) that aided me in the process. Look for it soon at the blog (http://www.iqdupont.com/blog)

    Posted 03 Jul 2006 at 3:19 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Sounds good. I'll cross-post whatever you come up with on my blog and maybe we can get a few of the other people other there to post it as well. There's a lot of 525 blogs going without any updates for instance!

    Posted 03 Jul 2006 at 4:19 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    So, like, what kind of porn was it then? Were there Asians?
    “history – a field that is traditionally dominated by single, authoritative authors.” Not so much, I don't think. I think the humanities are more heterogeneous than the 'hard' sciences–and we don't even get to use hard-nosed empiricism.

    Posted 03 Jul 2006 at 5:40 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Brad,
    Assuming this is Calgary Brad who's now in LA (since that's the only Brad I can think of who knows about this blog), how are things? You're the film maker who moved to LA – what do *you* know about the porn scene?
    As for the note about “historians as single authoritative sources”, I took that from the article. (Weak defense, I know.)

    Posted 03 Jul 2006 at 5:53 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Wrong, Jason. Dead Wrong. Emphasis on the words “Dead” and “Wrong”! I'm Taipei Brad was in Toronto and will eventually be back in LA.
    I'm in a history program. My $0.02: what seperates disciplines like history from economics and the hard sciences is the lack of a single dominant paradigm. There are _influential_ scholars spread throughout different, competing paradigms, but that's about the extent of it. And the people who write popular works seldom do original research and contribute anything to the store of human knowledge; they aren't even 'authoritative' by public standards–and I'm not discounting the importance of public, non-academic standards; just saying they're about the same. A profoundly important thinker to one historian is a charletan hack to another.
    I found your blog through Quinn (I went to the NIN concert with him, if you heard about that).

    Posted 04 Jul 2006 at 4:19 pm
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    Oops, I keep forgetting that strangers can stumble upon these pages. And when their first comment is about porn, I always assume they must be long-lost friends for some reason.
    As for the history thing, as I said, that was just a quick idea I grabbed out of the longer article without too much thought about its veracity. But I don't think the author was referring to history having a dominant paradigm, so much as the fact that history books tend to be written by single authors who are authoritative in their area (ie. there's probably only a few people who are known as “the guy” for books on Abe Lincoln) whereas science tends to be a much more collaborative medium, more in line with what happens on Wikipedia. Not to be snarky but did you read the article? If so, what did you think of it as a history person?

    Posted 05 Jul 2006 at 4:58 am
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jason,
    I didn't read 'the article' as I did not see that red car the other day! But I am familiar with the basic condition of pro-wikipedia people misunderstanding how the rest of the world works when the exault their shit (I'm not including you in that; I'm just assuming stuff about the article I haven't read at all).
    Books about Abe Lincoln are not history. History is not a story of 'great men' doing shit. It is much more like sociology or geography or political science, except, in the past. There isn't a magic line somewhere a few decades back when we go from trying to understand the complex interrelationships between gender, class, urbanization, religion, econonics, politics, culture, technology–and gathering different kids of date from different ontological perspectives, and hashing those out–to simply writing books about emperor names, dynasty dates, and the name of the city that treaties were signed in. So yes, there's a few authoritative guys on Lincoln, but that isn't much to do with “history” as a discipline. A more realistic question would be something like “What role did culture play in shaping women's participation in economic development in 18th century China?” Ask those questions and there are no longer single authoritative authors.
    (I also picked something with non-western and non-white and non-male actors, just to keep things progressive… there were, after all, a lot of them)
    Which brings us to the matter of collaboration, which happens in different ways. For the question I posed above, there will be people whose specialty is on gender and culture in that period of Chinese history; their research will be crucial in answering (or approaching an answer to) that question. As will those whose work lies in economic development, and especially those who focus on rural economic development. Now of course, there's lots of different kinds of jobs to be doing, and women were mostly contained to a certain few. So you'd need to consult the people who study those different kinds of things (wheat farming: no women; cotton cottage production: women), and what other factors other than culture led to their segregation into those roles. Then of course you have to at least consider urban-rural differences, and for that, there's a different group of specialists.
    In answering the question I posed above, you'd need to consider far, far more avenues than these to write a decent paper. Now, you wouldn't go into each one of them in depth: you'd rely on the work of others to locate your own perspective with or against different scholarship.
    So instead of checking if things are co-authored, check the citations. All knowledge is connected in some way, and there are different ways to collaborate.
    I wrote that quickly so I don't know how clear it will be.
    p.s. A Brief History of Time might be an interesting comparison. Hawking wrote that book, but if we have a good understanding of how science works, we know he isn't a total authority on the title of the book. The same is true on a book about, say, women and economic development in 18th century China. It is a complicated world.

    Posted 05 Jul 2006 at 6:16 pm
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    By way of an example, here is the list of work I (directly) used for my MA major research paper. -Brad
    Abrahamian, Ervand. 1974. Oriental Despotism: The Case of Qajar Iran. International Journal of Middle East Studies 5 (1):3-31.
    Allen, Robert. 2001. Real Wages in Europe and Asia: A First Look at the Long-Term Patterns.
    ———. 2002. Involution, Revolution, or What? Agricultural Productivity, Income, and Chinese Economic Development.
    Anderson, Perry. 1976. Lineages of the Absolutist State. New York: Verso Books.
    ———. 2000. Renewals. New Left Review 1 (1):5-24.
    Aston, T. H. and C. H. E. Philpin, ed. 1985. The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Bailey, Anne M., and Joseph R. Llobera. 1981. The Asiatic Mode of Production: Science and Politics. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.
    Blue, Gregory. 1999. China and Western Social Thought. In China and Historical Capitalism: Genealogies of Sinological Knowledge, edited by Gregory and Timothy Brook Blue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Bottomore, Tom, ed. 1991. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought. 2 ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
    Brenner, Robert. 1976. Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe. Past and Present (70):30-74.
    ———. 1977. The Origin of Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism. New Left Review 1 (104):25-92.
    ———. 1993. Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    ———. 2001. The Low Countries in the Transition to Capitalism. Journal of Agrarian Change 1 (2):169-241.
    ———, ed. Forthcoming. China and the West: The Roots of the Divergence: Verso Books.
    Brenner, Robert and Christopher Isett. 2002. England's Divergence from China's Yangzi Delta: Property Relations, Microeconomics, and Patterns of Development. Journal of Asian Studies 61 (2):609-662.
    Brook, Timothy. 1981. The Merchant Network in 16th Century China: A Discussion and Translation of Zhang Han's 'On Merchants'. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 24:165-214.
    ———. 1999. Capitalism and the Writing of Modern History in China. In China and Historical Capitalism: Genealogies of Sinological Knowledge, edited by Gregory and Timothy Brook Blue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    ———. Forthcoming. The Well-Field System. In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History, edited by Joel Mokyr. New York: Oxford University Press.
    ———, ed. 1989. The Asiatic Mode of Production in China. New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc.
    Buck, John Lossing. 1930. Chinese Farm Economy: A Study of 2866 Farms in Seventeen Localities and Seven Provinces in China. Chicago: Published for the University of Nanking and the China Council of the Institute of Pacific Relations by the University of Chicago Press.
    Chayanov, A. V. 1966. The Theory of Peasant Economy. Edited by Daniel Thorner, Basile H. Kerblay and R. E. F. Smith. Homewood, Ill.: Published for the American Economic Association by R.D. Irwin.
    Comninel, George. 1987. Rethinking the French Revolution: Marxism and the Revisionist Challenge. London: Verso Books.
    ———. 2000. English Feudalism and the Origins of Capitalism. The Journal of Peasant Studies 27 (4):1-53.
    ———. 2003. Supplementary reading list for the York University Department of Politics graduate seminar, The Theory and Practice of the State in Historical Perspective. Toronto.
    Das Gupta, Ashin. 1994. Indian Merchants and the Decline of Surat, c. 1700-1750. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors.
    De Bary, WM. Theodore, and Irene Bloom, ed. 1999. Sources of Chinese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600. 2 ed. Vol. 1, Introduction to Asian Civilizations. New York: Columbia University Press.
    Elvin, Mark. 1973. The Pattern of the Chinese Past. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    Fogel, Joshua A. 1988. The Debates over the Asiatic Mode of Production in Soviet Russia, China, and Japan. The American Historical Review 93 (1):56-79.
    Friedman, Jonathan. 1998. System, Structure, and Contraction: The Evolution of “Asiatic” Social Formations. 2 ed. Walnut Creek: Sage Publications, Inc.
    Grove, Linda and Christian Daniels, ed. 1984. State and Society in China: Japanese Perspectives on Ming-Qing Social and Economic History. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
    Habib, Irfan. 1985. Classifying Pre-Colonial India. The Journal of Peasant Studies 12:44-53.
    ———. 1999. The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707. 2 ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Original edition, London: Asia Publishing House, 1963.
    Heijdra, Martin. 1998. The Socio-Economic Development of Rural China Under the Ming. In The Cambridge History of China, edited by Denis C. Twitchett, and Frederick W. Mote. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    Hindess, B., and P. Hirst. 1975. Pre-Capitalist Modes of Production. Boston: Routledge and K. Paul.
    Holderness, B. A. 1976. Credit in English Rural Society Before the Nineteenth Century with Special Reference to the Period 1650-1720. The Agricultural History Review 24 (2):97-109.
    Huang, Philip C. C. 1985. The Peasant Economy and Social Change in North China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    ———. 1990. The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350-1988. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    ———. 2002. Development or Involution in Eighteenth Century Britain and China? A Review of Kenneth Pomeranz's The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. The Journal of Asian Studies 61 (2):501-538.
    ———. 2003. Further Thoughts on Eighteenth Century Britain and China: Rejoinder to Pomeranz's Response to My Critique. The Journal of Asian Studies 62 (1):157-167.
    Keyder, Caglar. 1976. The Dissolution of the Asiatic Mode of Production. Economy and Society 5 (2).
    Krader, Lawrence. 1975. The Asiatic Mode of Production: Sources, Development and Critique in the Writings of Karl Marx. Assen: Van Gorcum & Company B. V.
    Krader, Lawrence, and Karl Marx. 1974. The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx: Studies of Morgan, Phear, Maine, Lubbock. 2d ed, Quellen und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der deutschen und osterreichischen Arbeiterbewegung. nr. 3. Assen: Van Gorcum.
    Kumar, Dharma. 1985. Private Property in Asia? The Case of Medieval South India. Comparative Studies in Society and History 27 (2):591-608.
    Levine, Norman. 1977. The Myth of the Asiatic Restoration. The Journal of Asian Studies 37 (1):73-85.
    Li, Bozhong. 1998. Agricultural development in Jiangnan, 1620-1850: MacMillan Press.
    ———. 2000. Jiangnan De Zao Qi Gong Ye Hua (1550-1850 nian). Di 1 ban. ed, Zhongguo Jing Ji Shi Yan Jiu Cong Shu. Beijing: She hui ke xue wen xian chu ban she : Jing xiao Xin hua shu dian zong dian Beijing fa xing suo.
    Liang, Fang-chung. 1954. The Single-Whip Method of Taxation in China. Translated by Wang Yü-ch-uan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
    Littrup, Leif. 1981. Subbureaucratic Government in China in Ming Times: A Study of Shandong Province in the Sixteenth Century. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
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    Marx, Karl. 1965. Pre-capitalist economic formations. Translated by Jack Cohen. Edited by E. J. Hobsbawm. 1st U. S. ed. New York: International Publishers.
    ———. 1968. Marx on China, 1853-1860 : articles from the New York Daily Tribune. Edited by Dona Torr. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
    ———. 1969. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works. Edited by The Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. 3 vols. Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Publishers.
    ———. 1981. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Vol. 3. London: Penguin Books in association with New Left Review.
    ———. 2000. Theories of Surplus Value. 3 vols, Great Minds Series. Amherst: Prometheus Books.
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    Nitzan, Jonathan. 2003. Email correspondence with the author. Toronto.
    O'Leary, Brendan. 1989. The Asiatic Mode of Production: Oriental Despotism, Historical Materialism, and Indian History. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell Ltd.
    Oyama, Masaaki. 1984. Large Landownership in the Jiangnan Delta Region During the Late Ming-Early Qing Period. In State and Society in China: Japanese Perspectives on Ming-Qing Social and Economic History, edited by Linda and Christian Daniels Grove. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
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    Pomeranz, Kenneth. 2000. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    ———. 2002. Beyond the East-West Binary: Resituating Development Paths in the Eighteenth-Century World. The Journal of Asian Studies 61 (2):539-590.
    ———. 2003. Facts are Stubborn Things: A Response to Philip Huang. The Journal of Asian Studies 62 (1):167-181.
    Rowe, William T. 1984. Hankow: Commerce and Society in a Chinese City, 1796-1889. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    ———. 1989. Hankow: Conflict and Community in a Chinese City, 1776-1895. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    Sawer, Marian. 1977. Marxism and the Question of the Asiatic Mode of Production. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
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    Tawney, R. H. 1932. Land and Labour in China. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
    Thorner, D. 1966. Marx on India and the Asiatic Mode of Production. Contributions to Indian Sociology 9:55-66.
    Tsurmi, Naohiro. 1984. Rural Control in the Ming Dynasty. In State and Society in China: Japanese Perspectives on Ming-Qing Social and Economic History, edited by Linda and Christian Daniels Grove. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
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    Wang, Yu-Ch'uan. 1936. The Rise of Land Tax and the Fall of Dynasties in Chinese History. Pacific Affairs 9 (2):201-220.
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    Wong, R. Bin. 1997. China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    ———. 2003. Integrating China into World Economic History. The Journal of Asian Studies 62 (1).
    Wood, Ellen Meiksins. 1991. The Pristine Culture of Capitalism: A Historical Essay on Old Regimes and Modern States. New York: Verso Books.
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    Zell, Michael. 1996. Credit in the Pre-Industrial English Woolen Industry. The Economic History Review 49 (4):667-691.

    Posted 05 Jul 2006 at 6:22 pm
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    Woops, I think you accidently hit the command-v key!
    I am struggling to recall what the point of this all is, but as I read that article I think it was drawing unnecessary tension between Wikipedia's multi-author environment and the traditional publishing/scholarship environment. With that said, I think the connected nature of scholarship is alive and well in both wiki world and the hallowed halls of academia (I am too lazy to dig up the articles on co-citation patterns, and the informal invisible colleges). The article glosses over a few important issues: plagerism (either wholesale or slight) is common in academia, and information is typically transfered across informal channels in all disciplines (though, some more than others). I think the real issue is that “history” as a disipline has very little to do with writing general synoptic encyclopedia articles. History is a complex interconnected thing, encyclopedias (wiki and non) are derivative and superficial. Some encylopedias (i.e., the speciality ones) can approach reasonable research quality, but no one actually believes that Wikipedia or Britannica is real scholarship. That said, if I am not a scholar in America history (e.g.,) I really don't care about all the details, I just want the Coles' notes.

    Posted 06 Jul 2006 at 10:59 pm

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