Monthly Archives: February 2012

Not So Happy Post… But Happy Leap Day!


Hurro mateys. Happy Leap Day!! rib-bit, rib-bit.

Currently in the library trying to study for this forsaken exam, and I have so far gotten absolutely nowhere. Basically, I’m right on schedule.

Let’s boogie down with some European History.
Disclaimer: The human race can be a despicable breed; but this is what happened, and sugar coating it is parallel to lying so don’t expect it.

First and foremost, I just wanted to reiterate that Political Anti-Semitism is stupid. I don’t understand why people associated with Judaism have always been victimized, especially in Europe. In my London: A Cultural History class, we recently learned about how all the Jews (sorry if that’s an offensive term to anyone, it’s not meant in that sense, just quoting history) were discriminated against. The laws pertaining to Jews were as follows:

  • They couldn’t own inheritable land
  • In 1811 they were forbidden to bear arms
  • In 1222, “to prevent the mixture of Jewish men and women with Christians of each sex, we charge that the Jews of both sexes wear a linen cloth, two inches broad and four fingers long of a different colour from their own clothes, on their upper garment, before their breast”. So basically they were going Scarlet Letter status.
  • They were victims of exceptional taxation and fines — in 1130 the entire Jewish community in London was charged 2,000 pounds when a Jewish doctor lost a patient. Rational? I think not.

Finally, in 1290, a law actually passed banning all Jewish residents (16,000) from the Kingdom. The reason for their expulsion was that by the late 13th century, Jewish lenders were being replaced by Italians, so Londoners apparently no longer had a use for them. Get this though, it was not until 1656 that Jews were allowed back into the city of London, thanks to Oliver Cromwell.
^And that’s just in London!

Now, we fast forward to Russia were the persecution continues. Karl Lueger (remember that name), the mayor of Vienna from 1897-1919, defined Jews as a race, and used them as a scapegoat for all the wrongs that were happening in Russia at the time. To punish them, Lueger banned Jews from immigrating to Vienna. He used this anti-semitism to gain support for his Christian Social Party and lo and behold, Karl Lueger was the one who inspired the young Adolf Hitler.

So now how about Jewish persecution in France?

The Dreyfus Affair, 1885-1906
–> A French Jewish officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was accused of spying for Germany – it was a false accusation. During his trial, Dreyfus was not considered a true French citizen because he was Jewish. This case actually politically divided France into two parties: those who believed he was innocent, and those who thought he was a guilty pig. It ended up that Dreyfus was court martialed and sent to prison on Devil’s Island. After some time, Dreyfus was pardoned and reinstated in 1906.

  • France was the most progressive country apparently, with people yelling “Death to Jews!” in the streets. Um, rude.
  • During the Dreyfus Affair, Theodor Herzl was a reporter in Paris, and he was very skeptical about the possibility of Jewish assimilation in Europe. To combat this, he advocated forming a Jewish state outside of Europe, very originally dubbed The Jewish State, 1896.

Moving away from Jewish persecution…

The New Woman
–> Up until now, women didn’t really have any rights whatsoever. However, in the 1890’s, “the new woman” began to appear in novels, giving a new conception of gender and women began rejecting the “cult of domesticity”. Basically, women wanted to learn, be independent and have access to higher education like men. They also began questioning the necessity of marriage and having children. Things like bloomers, bicycles and cigarettes, and being in public independent of others gave rise to the new woman. Score one for the female gender.

Side Note:
The cult of domesticity was a a cultural understanding that the private household was the woman’s space; and a good  woman had to be a good daughter, marry a good husband, and then become a good mother. Basically, the women’s role was to continue the blood line. Don’t even get me started on these horrific gender roles; I will saw your head off and stick it on a peg if you even think about telling me that those were the “good ole days”.

The Suffragette Movement
–> This is in association with the new woman movement; basically, women decided it was time they had the right to vote (as they should have). The movement was strongest in the UK and Britain and the parties were as follows:

  • National Union on Women’s Suffrage Societies: formed in 1897 and a politically moderate group
  • Women’s Social and Political Union: now these were some feisty ladies. The group formed in 1903, and they took very radically direct action; they smashed windows, burned mailboxes, cut down phone lines and adopted hunger strikes.

Now… Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
–> Most know at least a little bit about this fella, unless of course you went to a Catholic School where his teachings aren’t exactly in line with the Catholic beliefs. Anyway, he was the one responsible for Theory of Natural Evolution, Origin of Species (1859), and Descent of Man (1871). Basically, his research talked about natural selection and how man was a descendent of primates, not magical beings created by a higher power. His work undermined religion and caused quite the ruckus. This inevitably led to…

Social Darwinism
–>Herbert Spencer applied Darwin’s ideas to human society, dubbing “survival of the fittest”, and he came to the conclusion that the biologically fit would prosper where the weak would perish (smart cookie that one…).

  • Spencer believed that state welfare only interferes in the process of natural selection, and in turn he was in defense of laissez-faire economics (an environment where transactions between private parties are free from state intervention. This is including regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies).

I know this stuff is just to uplifting, huh?

Eugenics (here for Vermont factoids)
–> Francis Galton was the inventor of this term. In the essay “Inquiries in Human Faculty and its Development” (1883), concerns were expressed that the wealthy families were not having kids, yet the poor were. This was troubling for Eugenics supporters because it meant that bad genes were perpetuating, and they actually thought that incentives should be provided for prominent families to have kids.

–> This was Sigmund Freud’s study of hysteria and subconscious. He found that a lot of people (mostly women) were suffering from moments of paralysis, coughing and speech impediments. While working in France with a man named Sharkoe, he found that hypnosis cured hysteria, so it was not necessarily an incurable sickness.

  • Funny(ish) side note: Freud found that hysteria patients were often victims of sexual abuse, but Freud suddenly found himself with these symptoms; so he actually dug into his own past to see if he himself was a sexual abuse victim. He wasn’t, thus disproving his own theory.
  • These studies led to the eventual discovery of the subconscious, which can be read in “Interpretation of Dreams” (1900).

DONE (for now) WITH THE CRAZY VIOLENCE AND NONSENSE! I hope you guys we’re completely deterred by all of this. Although it’s shocking and disturbing that all of this did occur, it’s something we should all be aware of; also makes me realize how good I’ve got it living in 21st century America…

Happy Thoughts! It’s almost SPRING BREAK (well, for us Vermonters) although it doesn’t really feel like Spring.


So for my London: A Cultural History class, we read some raunchy and horrifying stuff. This weeks shocker was simply too tantalizing not to share, so I’m going to relay the snippet for you guys. Uhh.. enjoy?

But, to end with a beggar, or at least someone who aspired to begging: Elizabeth Evans was probably a prostitute — at least when asked about the father of her bastard daughter, she names three or four possibilities — but more importantly, she was a woman living at the edge of London society. She shared a bed with Sophia Claxton in a cheap lodging house and on the night of 9 February 1740 went into labor. She did not tell her bedfellow, but in the morning Claxton found the dead body of a newborn female infant wrapped in a linen cloth. The midwife was called, and Evans was taxed with the death. She vehemently denied it, asserting that the child was born dead, but in her defense also said that “she found it dead, and therefore laid it away from her; and before she would have killed it, she would have gone a-begging with it” Begging, for Evans and for most working people in eighteenth-century London, was a realistic and even attractive proposition. A young baby was a prop to female begging so powerful that many claimed there was a well-established agency to satisfy the demand somewhere in the depths of St. Giles. Presented with a child, Evan’s first thought was how she could use the baby to construct a begging persona to access the resources her new position as a pauper mother would then deserve.

… those beggars. Some real classy broads.

[[By the way, that was taken from Begging on the Streets of Eighteenth-Century London by Tim Hitchcock]]

Quack Quack

Ok, Well This Is Disturbing

There’s Many Lost, But Tell Me Who Has Won


I feel so ingenious! Well really, I feel like a dork. First off, it is about 9 am and I don’t have class until one, and my lesson got cancelled, so for once I can sleep in on a school day. But do I? Of course not… and I’m questioning my sanity. Regardless! Back to why I am ingenious:

So my second major is European Studies; don’t ask me what it is slash what I plan on doing with that, because I’m not really sure – besides having a nice excuse to frequent Europe. I want to be fluent in French? That can be a reason. It’s funny because I’m actually horrendous with names and dates, so I must have had an aneurism when I chose this, but I wanted a second major, so here I am.

Back to the point.

Next week is spring break (!!!), so it’s exam season. This holds true with one of my classes: European Culture & Society 1914-1945. Sounds cool right? And it is; it’s pretty much the storyline of Europe between the two world wars. Lemme tell you, Europe was not so hunky dory back in the day.

Side Note: Did you know the 20th century was the most violent in all of human history? We suck.

So, my exam is on Thursday. Usually I don’t study until the night before, but I’m trying something new. Since the information is cool, I’m going to do a mini history lesson for those interested. Even if you think you aren’t, just read it. It’s our worlds history people!

If you don’t know history, it is as if you were born yesterday.

I’m going to comb through my notes and pick the juicy details, it’ll be history sans the snoozes. There are wayyyy too many notes to even think about putting them in one post; that would have to be the super readers digest version. So I’ll break it up, or not share all with you, or save it for later. Meh, I’ll just got with the flow, see where the wind takes me.
Now…. To Europe! Feel free to pick the accent of your choosing. I’m going Croatian I think.

Disclaimer: The human race can be a despicable breed; but this is what happened, and sugar coating it is parallel to lying so don’t expect it. Uživati (that’s enjoy in Croatian).

First, here’s some of the different types of government reigning Europe before WWI.

European Socialism, 1875-1900
–> What is socialism, you ask? Well, it is a system of social organization that advocates the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of goods (capital, land) in the community as a whole. Basically, the government controls instead of private enterprises.

  • The largest socialist party at this time was the German SPD, with a strategy for short term reforms and preparation for future socialist society.

Marxist Revisionism
–> Revisionism is any departure from Marxist doctrine, theory, or practice, especially the tendency to favor reform about revolutionary change. The term is most often used by Marxists who believe that such revisions are unwarranted and represent an abandonment of Marxism.

  • Eduard Bernstein, the head honcho for revisionism, thought that socialism was achieved by ongoing reforms, and he rejected the necessity of revolution. Due to this view of socialism, the socialist party split in two, with the right wing being revisionists and the left being syndicalism.

Revolutionary Syndicalism
–> Syndicalism is an economic system in which workers own and manage the industry. The ideal was workers’ self-management, and that factories would be run by the workers themselves. Fascism was actually branched off from syndicalism.

  • Georges Sorel was a big name here. He rejected parliamentary reform and claimed that instead of waiting for the “big wave”, everything depended on the will… basically he thought anything can happen if there was enough wanting. So if I were to want my very own ice cream truck, Sorel thought, “if there’s a will, there’s a way”.
  • The tactic of this government was general strike; they wanted one giant union with all the workers behind it. This actually succeeded in taking place in Russia in 1905 and in France in 1968.

Imitation has never produced much good and often bred much sorrow; how absurd the idea is then of borrowing from some dead and gone social structure… – Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence

Anarchism & “Propaganda Of The Dead”
–> Anarchism urges the abolition of government and its restraint as the indispensable condition for full social and political liberty. They basically believed in the socialized state and political equality, but they always tended to be violent. Their tactic was exemplary acts of political violence to spark general revolt.

  • In 1894, anarchists assassinated the French President Carnot, along with many others. They preached political voluntarism, and the slogan “Do It Now” to urge citizens to act.

Russian Narodniks (Populism)
–> Populists idealized the peasant; it was basically socialism based on the MIR (peasant commune/village). The peasants brought about revolution.

  • University students from well-t0-do families were actually the most excited about this new form of government, and started a campaign dubbed “Going to the People”. During this, the students tried to show their support by visiting the MIR, but the poor peasants didn’t take too kindly to spoiled students invading their space. In reality, the campaign (1873-4) went pretty terrible.
  • The government responded to populism with intense oppression, which backfired and actually ended up radicalizing the populace movement. The Czar eventually ended up crushing the movement by 1877, and some of the populists turned to terrorism, assassinating Alexander II in 1881.

Russian Marxism
–> Founded on an idea that historical movement between contradiction of forces and relations of production. The economy was dynamic with constant change, and the people were “waiting for the wave”.

  • Lenin is the name to remember here. He managed a centralized party of highly disciplined professional revolutionaries and approached revolution from an international perspective. Innovation!
  • The Russian Social (Marxist) Democratic Party formed in 1889, then split into two factions in 1903; these are important. The smaller, yet apparent majority party were the Bolsheviks, they backed up political voluntarism, and decided that the Russians could skip the icky tunnel of capitalism. The other faction was dubbedMensheviks; they believed full industrialization came before socialism, gradualism in politics.

So… Russia is running into some problems before World War I. In the 1904-5 war, Russia was defeated by Japan. This resulted in an economic downturn, and all hell begins to break loose. Father Gapon then organizes The Assembly of Russian Factory and Mill Workers of St. Petersburg, leading a demonstration of 200,000 people. The Tsar isn’t too fond of this though, and orders soldiers to open fire on the demonstrators. As a result, 130 demonstrators are killed on January 22nd, famously known as Bloody Sunday. In response to this, general strike breaks out, and Tsar Nicholas II issues the October Manifesto, which granted some liberal reforms and power for Duma (Russian official assembly constituting the lower house of parliament).

I think that’s good for now, plus I have to make moves to get to class. Mais, c’est la guerre. It’s getting close. Although it hasn’t gotten terribly depressing yet, I thought I would lighten the mood with a song by U2. That’s actually a blatant lie, this song is depressing in and of itself… but it’s relevant! Well, kind of. Here U2 is referencing 1972’s “Bloody Sunday”, where British Troops opened fire on unarmed and peaceful civilians in Derry, Ireland. Why must we be so heinous?



Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


Mary Oliver said it right, folks.

I’m procrastinating. There are about a million things I could and should be doing right now. Instead, I am watching Gilmore Girls because it has some sort of magnetic pull.

Isn’t this the point of being young? People can live 100 years without really living for a minute. You climb up here with me and it’s one less minute you haven’t lived.

Carpe Diem, baby.
So I’m going abroad next semester, and I want to use this to document my travels, but I want to use this beforehand too, like research and stuff. It’s like my own little travel diary. I feel a little bit like Samuel Pepys, except I can travel the world, and he has slightly better hair.

Anyway, I’m either going to Caen, France or Grenoble, France. There’s some hogwash about whether or not Caen will run because it’s a new program and they need a set amount of people. Caen is my first choice, because when I finish the program I get a Diploma of French Studies. In all honesty I don’t really know the significance of it, but who doesn’t love a nice diploma?

It’s pretty cool; I somehow managed to be on top of my class game since freshman year, and I can technically graduate a semester early. After this semester, my English major will be completely done and I will only need 17 credits to graduate, huzzah! Instead of actually entering the real world a semester early though, I am going to gallivant in Europe for a semester abroad. I am pretty much going to perfect my French oy vey. That means that the only classes I plan on taking will be the ones that will give me that certificate. It will still be about 15 credits, but I’m going to try and mold my schedule so that I never have class on Thursday. Travel, travel, travel.

It’s unfortunate that traveling costs beaucoup d’argent, but I am determined to pick the brains of my friends and do my research so that I can travel and keep the cash in my pocket. That, and I won’t really have much of a choice because I am slowly going broke and will only have a summer to work, plus I’m trying to only work part time so I can land an internship. Big fun but hey, life of a college student.

Here it goes. These are baby steps in the direction towards abroad research, but you need to start somewhere. I guess what I want to do is compile a list of everywhere I want to go. Now, this is going to be completely unrealistic considering I will only be in Europe for four months, but dreaming big is never frowned upon in my book. I’ll obviously be cutting it down massively when I start to delve deeper.

The List

  • Armenia
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vatican City State

Yes, I am aware it is a very long list; it looks menacing right now. I also desperately want to go to Morocco. Clearly I am going to need to go to Europe multiple times… life goal: visit every country. Now that’s dreaming big.

I think the best way to attack this now is to make sub-sections in each country, picking the top towns/states/whatevers I want to visit. This way I can narrow the list down while starting at the surface as far as historical background goes. Being spontaneous is fun and all, but I can do that someday when I actually have money to toss around. Again, thumbs down for being broke.

aaand this is when 2:30 am (Happy Birthday, Sarah!) starts creeping up on me. Actually, it’s not creeping; it’s in my face jabbing me with a jousting pole. Armenia is going to have to wait until tomorrow. But before I hit the hay, I wanted to share some hilarious videos with the world. The professor for my 19th Century British Novel class showed these to us in class and I have to say they are highly hilarious. She even claimed that the Kate Bush video was an icon, so maybe this beauty has already been shown to you. If not, you’re in for a treat.

Side Note: The book that we are currently reading for this class is Wuthering Heights , a straight up classic. I highly recommend that everyone read this book, it really is a timeless, endearing love story… but with violence! Well, as violent as these saucy authors were willing to get. The language is beautiful as well, and for me that’s one of the most important parts of a good book. I digress; enjoy the videos, or laugh at them, whichever suits you. And take thirty minutes out of your day to read a book. It’s good for the soul!

Oh yeah, and you can’t really understand what she’s saying, so here are the lyrics my prettys.

Ah, yes. Such poise and grace. Now here’s a uh, The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain’s rendition?

Don’t worry, I saved the best for last…

I bet these videos really make you want to read the book now, huh?
Nighty night.

A Palindromic Pancake Day…



Brush, Needle & Whisk

that is to say, Pancake Day on 21.02.12!

Being a real francophile at heart, I make pancakes/crêpes far more frequently than once a year on Shrove Tuesday, much to the delight of my family. We’ve tried them with a variety of toppings but it has to be said that nothing can beat a squirt of lemonjuice and a sprinkle of sugar. Maple syrup comes a very close second, with various combinations of ice cream drizzled with a favourite liqueur coming in third:

The recipe that I use is a very simple one, just 125g of plain flour, 2 eggs, 315ml of milk and 3tsp of butter melted. The eggs, then milk, then butter are gradually whisked in to the batter which is then left to stand for about 30 minutes – don’t worry if you don’t have the time to do this, it won’t end in…

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