Cheeseburger Pie: A Remembrance

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I don’t remember ever helping my mom make cheeseburger pie. They say that letting kids help in the kitchen encourages those kids to eat the food they helped to make, but I’m pretty sure my opinion of cheeseburger pie wouldn’t have changed whether I had helped or not. Cheeseburger pie was simply awful. I recently found the cheeseburger pie recipe while I was going through a family recipe book I had received as a wedding present. Seeing it written out brought back a cavalcade of memories. I could just taste the slightly gritty ground beef, the backbone of the dish. The beef bathed in a slime of ketchup (half a cup!) and evaporated milk. The recipe called for half a cup of diced onions, but we never—I mean not once…
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A 21st Century Barbary War

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When Thomas Jefferson sent a small naval squadron to the Mediterranean in 1801, he intended to intimidate the Barbary regencies into backing down from their claims of tribute in exchange for commercial freedom in the Mediterranean. Negotiations with the Barbary states hadn’t worked over the previous 15 years of American attempts, and the newly built navy was meant to show the world that America would take its place in the world economy by force. Algiers was responsible for the capture of American ships that had stultified American commerce in the Mediterranean, and its fleet of corsairs was seen as the biggest threat. The Americans had negotiated many times with the dey, but he often changed the terms of the negotiations on a whim. In 1789, Richard O’Brien, then a captive…
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Wiggly Tales: A Random Tale Generator

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[This semester I'm taking Humanities Data Analysis with Professor Ben Schmidt. One of our tasks for this week was to build a random-walk generator using 3-grams. Here's my quick writeup of my generator cross-posted from our course blog.] We’ve been reading a lot of fairy tales around my house recently, so I wanted to see how well-spun of a tale I could create by walking randomly through a collection of fairy tales. I selected four fairy-tale collections from Project Gutenberg to test this idea on. Code is on GitHub. I selected these four collections: The Thousand and One Nights, Volume 1 The Blue Fairy Book (by Andrew Lang) Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault The addition of the Arabian Nights stories to Western European fairy tales…
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Geography in the American Quasi-War with France

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After an AHA in which I heard a lot about how digital history needs to be about results as well as methodology, I decided to write up a post about the results I gained from mapping the Quasi-War. Special h/t to Cameron Blevins and Yoni Appelbaum for inspiring me to write about my research. I'm also using Yoni's hyperlink-style citations. For my seminar in Empires and Colonialism this past semester, I wrote about the United States' Quasi-War with France. The paper argues that the Quasi-War was one of the United States' first chances to engage with international law on a broad scale, and that the conflicting legal realities of an undeclared war helped to destabilize the French empire in the Caribbean to the breaking point. As part of that seminar paper, I mapped…
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Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

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Today is Ada Lovelace Day, honoring a woman who is often credited with being the first computer programmer because of her work programming for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine in the 1840s. The day honors Ada and all women who are involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I am not a woman in a STEM field, not really. But I am celebrating Ada Lovelace Day today because I am the humanities scholar I am through the influence of a woman who did work in STEM---my mom. So I'd like to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day 2014 by honoring my mom. My mom was an elementary school teacher for the first part of her adult life. Once she had kids, she transitioned to writing elementary-school textbooks for a small press, a role…
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Boston Maps Project After One Semester

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The major work on the Boston Maps Project for the semester is wrapping up this week. This semester, we ended up with 108 users (about 100 students) who contributed to 19 maps and over 400 annotations on our Omeka site. Review: The Process Throughout the semester, I attended an average of three full class periods for each of the five classes that participated heavily in the project. Some of these meetings were scheduled in advance; others were scheduled when I noticed a particular problem across a large number of students in the class. The initial instruction took two forms. In two classes, I explained the instructions about georectification in a separate class period from my instruction about annotations. In the others, I did all the instruction about both topics in…
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Harsh Words for a War (in 1812)

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The War of 1812 had been going on for about six months when this list was published by the Federal Republican (reprinted in the Salem Gazette, December 29, 1812, which is where I found it). If this piece is no less vitriolic than some political rhetoric of the twenty-first century, at least it is much more succinct. Reasons, not long, for believing the War will be Short. 1st. Because the army lacks men. 2d. Because the treasury lacks money. 3d. Men and money are the sinews of war. 4th. The navy lacks encouragement. 5th. Because the President lacks nerves.[1. James Madison] 6th. Because the secretary of state lacks head.[2. James Monroe] 7th. The secretary of the treasury lacks heart.[3. Albert Gallatin] 8th. The secretary of the navy lacks every thing.[4. Paul…
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Concord Hymn Glosa

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[caption id="attachment_295" align="alignright" width="225"] The Minute Man, Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by JeromeG111[/caption] This Patriots' Day week, we mourn for the victims of the explosions in Boston. I'm not a native Bostonian, but I'm a Bostonian now: my emotions have fluctuated between deep sorrow and deep anger that someone would do this to my city, to my fellow Bostonians. I'm so thankful for our police officers, firefighters, National Guard, and all the first responders. To celebrate the patriots of Massachusetts, from minute men in 1775 to first responders in 2013, I offer this glosa on Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn."   By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world. Invention on…
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