Monthly Archives: August 2009

Dissertating and Microfilming

Isn’t that how everyone spends their days?  I am currently scanning in newsletters from the microfilm reels of the Clarke Papers, and I have been working more on one of my dissertation chapters.  I can not believe how slowly the writing goes.  Didn’t I used to write faster than this?

Right now I’m working on a section discussing Mabbott’s role as agent for the army.  In this particular chapter I am trying to steer away from discussing his licensing duties, though it will come up, in favor of more usual kinds of agent work.  Most agents were not press licensers, after all.  However, even this can be subsumed into the larger function of London agents, which seems to have primarily been the control of information.

I am also surprised at the lack of work on lobbying during the period.  This isn’t to say that it has been ignored, certainly not, but I am looking for a particular kind of lobbying, more akin to what historians like Dean and Green have found in the Tudor parliaments.  I want to see who bribed whom how much and to do what.  If anybody knows work on this for the Stuart parliaments or the Commonwealth, and not about men-of-business or undertakers, I’d really appreciate it.  Lenthall was notoriously bribeable (I’m not sure if that is a word, and if it is, that it isn’t mispelled), and considering the number of famous clerks from the period, like the Frosts, Scobell, Brown, Elsynge, Thurloe, Rushworth, etc., it seems like there should be more on this kind of matter.  I’m sure they weren’t any harder to bribe than their sixteenth-century counterparts, and they could probably offer even more interesting services.

Anywho, I think I’ll take a break now.  It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks, and we are throwing a party tomorrow, so I’ll need my energy.  It will be, for reasons we won’t get into, 1996-themed.  You wouldn’t believe how much of the 90s was encapsulated in music released in 1996.

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Back in Santa Barbara

Well, I made it back to Santa Barbara last night.  It was a very enjoyable vacation, for the most part, in the northwest.  To correct something I said earlier, you can in fact get a number of real ales up there.  Cask conditioning is very “in,” it would appear.  The beer was delicious, and I got to take my girlfriend to my favorite old haunts up in Seattle.  Corvallis was gorgeous, and we took some trips out to Newport (Rogue Brewery HQ) and Portland to see an old roommate.  Portland is a great town, too.  We capped it off with a couple of nights at my parents in the Bay Area, and are back in action now down south.

We also got to go see the Yankees destroy the Mariners at Safeco Field.  The game was unpleasant, but it was still fun, and the ball park is fantastic.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now.  By the way, I’m thinking of starting a facebook page for old Gilbert sometime soon, so keep an eye out for that.  He’s been dead for some three centuries, so he’ll need help finding friends.

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This is something more of a personal post.  It’s probably not the right forum, but it will have to do.  I found out last night that one of my roommates from college died two years ago.  He was 29 (he would be 31 now).  You always kind of figure that someone would tell you these kinds of things, but in retrospect, how could they?  Jason and I weren’t in touch, we saw each other last for only about 2 hours, and that was 3 years ago.  We (meaning me and his other roommates) didn’t know his family or other friends all that well, so even if they wanted to, they would have no idea how to contact us.

This is a picture of us at graduation.  I’m on the left, he’s on the right.  He ironed his gown, I didn’t.  Like I said, you can’t tell in the pictures.


He had a laugh that was sort of a half screech.  It always made me laugh when I heard it.  He planned to be president one day.  He had an identical twin brother who was thinner than he was and he was very touchy about it.  I bought him a whistle for his birthday one year, because he was working as a security guard and all he was allowed to do if there was a break-in was to call the police, so I thought he should at least have a whistle for self-defense.  I imagined him chasing down evil-doers with it.  He lied to me once and told me he used it.  He once came home so drunk that he rolled down the hill, destroying some bushes along the way, came in through the window because he couldn’t work the door, and shattered his phone on our front porch by accident.  We had to piece it together the next day, only realizing that the grass stains and scrapes came from rolling down the hill as we headed back to the bar that night (we found the trampled bushes).  He loved dogs to an embarassing degree.  He came home from a trip with a ridiculous GOP tattoo on his arm.  Our senior year, he took to drinking Olympia beer.  He sometimes went by the nickname “Smoz.”  He considered changing his phone number to 1-800-THE-SMOZ, but it was already taken.  Sometimes people called him Smaz, because he was kind of a spaz.  Fortunately, he had a good sense of humor about himself.  He had the ugliest POS car I’ve ever seen.

He was a good friend.  Rest in peace, buddy.

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Greetings from Corvallis, OR

I’ve been in Corvallis for about half a week now.  My girlfriend and I are house/catsitting for our shared advisor.  It seemed like a way to get out of town without having to pay for a hotel, and the cats are friendly (ignoring the bite marks on my hand).

I have to say that Corvallis has been very pleasant.  It’s a small town built around the college, which is quite beautiful in its own right.  I also do like OSU’s library, which you can tell they are doing their best to turn into a strong research library.

I do love the Pacific Northwest.  Corvallis is very green, both in foliage and habits.  Most places compost, recycle, and use biodegradable containers.  A lot of the food is locally and organically grown.  It was rather hot when we got here, but the last few days have been very pleasant, and the house is great.  A few days ago, we took a drive out to Newport on the coast, and it was absolutely gorgeous.  We’re planning on checking out some of the local cheeses soon, and I’ve been enjoying the beer.  Most people not from the area wouldn’t know, but the northwest is great beer country.  Also, coffee.  I did my undergrad at UW-Seattle, and they say that no place does brown liquids like Seattle.  No real ales, though, unfortunately.

I just submitted my grades for the class I was TAing, and I have some thoughts on summer school.  I think it’s a terrible idea.  They try to collapse an entire quarter into six weeks, with predictable exhaustion and frustration.  The students and the instructors have a hard time keeping up with the pace of even just one class.  However, the university, in an effort to drum up enrollment, has made summer school one low price for as many classes as you can handle.  Again, predictably, students take too many classes, and succeed at none.  As I have found, a surprising number are driven to cheat, and many turn in half-baked work.  I have also, strangely, had some students perform very well.  It would appear that some flourish in the environment, while a majority are crushed by it.  In general, I think it’s a bad idea.

Following my previous post, I am still curious as to what people think an appropriate punishment for cheaters at the university level is.  We failed them and reported them to the university.  Since it was their first offenses, they will receive a letter of warning, and the record is kept private by the university until the student either offends again or has the incident expunged from their record.  It’s mainly insurance against further offenses.  We had the option to request a hearing, but declined.  At a hearing, the penalty can range from warning to expulsion.  If a student is reported a second time, a hearing is required.

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I don’t have anything to report on Mabbott right now.  I just wanted to mention that I have graded 15 papers so far, and 3 of them were plagiarized.  Rather, two students plagiarized, and one bought an essay off of  I can’t handle any more right now.

Anybody want to commiserate over a glass of scotch?  That’s where I’m headed.

Updated: what do people think is an appropriate punishment for someone who cheats at the university level?


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