November 17, 2004
My Las Vegas postings on the Western History Association banquet brew-ha-ha has solicited comments from concerned members on both sides of the aisle. Here's a thoughtful take from an academic who wishes to remain anonymous:
"Over the years, there have been attempts to purge the WHA of non-academics. The Westerners are not as welcome as once they were; the mining historians are crowded into a session and I am sure that you figured out that Earpophiles and Billyologists are thin on the ground. There are fewer western-cut suits in evidence than once there were, likewise honest hats (although yours was a notable corrective). I am sorry that this was your first WHA, and I hope that it's not your last—some of the other sessions had some cracking good papers, and usually the venues provide ample opportunity for sitting down, irrigating and telling sea stories (the real attraction of most conferences) with friends of long acquaintance and new alike. I meant in fact to seek you out and congratulate you on the look and content of True West—and I'm sure that I'm not the only one there who reads it. I also owe you a debt: I was a student (under Peter Iverson) at ASU back in the early 90s, when you were drawing for the New Times. I've used your 'Seven Deadly Sins of Political Correctness' series in class more than once, and they have stopped several classes cold. And no, ASU isn't that bad. Just homely and set in a poor excuse for a desert community, now complete with faux lake.
"Peter Iverson is a fine historian and his career is a great example of civility and productivity. His stuff is readable and his insistence on solid scholarship sets a high standard for those of us who studied under him. He believes in the need for the WHA to include academic and non-academic alike, yet some of his students are thin-skinned and a little reverse-ethnocentric and, maybe, snobs. Moreover, I suspect that like many grad students some have little experience outside of the library and seminar room; time and life may teach them patience, tolerance (even of fools) and maybe a touch of good manners. Maybe some maturation will descend before next year's do in Phoenix; I hope so, and hope to see you there."
Had to fast this morning and go for my third MRI down at Scottsdale Imaging. Not fun being inside that damn tube with the loud clicking and BR-K-K-K-K-K-ing sound effects with an IV stuck in the arm and "cool jazz" on the headphones. Got there at 6:20, got out at 8:15, drank some coffee and drove up to the office.
Got a big budget meeting this afternoon. We're staring at a projected $170K deficit for 2005, based on all the things we want to do. Obviously, some things need to be cut.
"I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice."
—Fredrich August von Hayek
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