Saturday, December 31, 2005

Things to look forward to next year

This blog will continue to cover items of interest to me, my family, friends and hopefully even one or two strangers in the next year. I don't expect my core group of half a dozen readers to grow too much in the next twelve months. My readership seems to have been pretty stable the last couple of months. Among the topics that I will cover here in the next few months are Arivacanese folk ways, the Great Job Hunt, Stalinist repression and Guru work.

Regarding Arivacanese culture I would like to blog more about music. I have not been able to see much of Arivaca's musical night life yet. I am hoping that when Chris returns from the Land of Frozen Lakes he can give me a lift to some of the evening concerts here. Otherwise I am going to have to start my own concert series in the Chicken Shack.

The job hunt is going to undergo a major reorientation next year. I have now wasted a big chunk of two years applying for jobs for which I realistically had no chance of even getting an interview. I can not say that I did not receive multiple warnings that my research topics were ideologically incompatible with the ruling powers in American academia. As recently as my last trip to London my friend Abdulhadi told me that using my article "Socialist Racism: Ethnic Cleansing and Racial Exclusion in the USSR and Israel" as my writing sample pretty much guaranteed that no US university would ever hire me. In retrospect it appears he was right.

I am going to continue my Human Cost of Communism series. I will put up a new post in the series once every week until it is finished. Right now it looks like it will have 15 posts total. I will also mark each of the major Soviet ethnic deportations throughout the year on their anniversaries. That is another dozen or so posts.

Finally, I remain committed to the idea of transmitting knowledge, a practice now evidently banned at US universities. Guru Pohl renews his vow to help all seekers of knowledge free of charge in the upcoming year. So far my students have been very satisfied with my teachings.

Boots Make the Man

The cowboy boots my uncle got me for Christmas arrived in the mail today. It was difficult to find a place that made boots my size. These boots fit perfectly. Now I have the full set of Arivaca regalia. I have the cowboy hat, the cowboy boots, the tie-dye shirt and the beard.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Life in Arivaca

Today I met the woman who made my tie-dye shirts. Here in Arivaca the tie-dye shirt is one of the most common elements of local fashion. My uncle and I were at the coffee shop on our way back from the dump and post office. In line in front of us to purchase coffee was a woman holding a small puppy. I was wearing a tie-dye shirt. The woman recognized her work and thanked me for purchasing it. People in Arivaca are much nicer and more polite than in the rest of the world.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Human Cost of Communism Part IV

During the years 1937-1938, the Soviet government engaged in a series of campaigns against perceived enemies of the state that resulted in hundreds of thousands of executions. Known as the Great Terror or Great Purges this blood letting constituted the majority of death sentences under Soviet rule. Between 1921 to 1953, a total of 799,455 people tried by Soviet police organs (Cheka, GPU, OGPU, NKVD and MVD) received death sentences. The NKVD issued a full 681,692 of these sentences in 1937 and 1938. Over a third of these executions came from the national operations aimed at eliminating agents of specified foreign powers. The "German Operation", "Polish Operation", "Finnish Operation", "Latvian Operation" and similar campaigns accounted for 247,157 death sentences. These executions fell heavily upon Soviet citizens belonging to extra territorial nationalities. These groups constituted only 1.7% of the population of the USSR, but accounted for over a quarter of all arrests and executions during the Great Terror.

The figure for executions is of course incomplete. It only includes executions approved by NKVD boards. It does not include NKVD executions by decree such as those at Katyn, Rivne, Lviv, Lutsk, Tallinn, Tartu, Kharkhiv and other areas in 1940 and 1941. Other Soviet records for instance register the execution of 21,257 Polish prisoners in accordance with a 5 March 1940 decree signed by Beria. The German military later uncovered the bodies of the 4,421 of these detainees shot at Katyn. These executions are not part of the recorded total cited in the paragraph above. The figure also does not include death sentences handed down by regular courts rather than the NKVD. Nor does it include the mass shootings of Soviet soldiers accused of desertion in 1941. In total the Stalin regime probably executed close to one million people, the vast majority of them for alleged political crimes.

Figures cited are found in the works below.

J. Otto Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997), pp. 7-9.

Terry Martin, An Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (London: Cornell University Press, 2001), pp.338-339.

G.C. Malcher, Blank Pages: Soviet Genocide Against the Polish People (Surrey: Pryford Press, 1991), p. 168.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Just another day in paradise

Not much is happening in these few days between Christmas and New Years. For the most part things are going really well. The weather is fantastic. I have no outstanding deadlines. Finally, on the positive side of the ledger I am totally isolated from the rest of the world's problems.

For some reason the internet is only allowing me online in the hours between 1 am and 7 am in the morning. This is a little bit irritating. But, it turns out I am not missing a whole lot. I get on average one real e-mail a day. Increasingly, I am finding most other people's blogs to be rather uninteresting right now. Currently, the only ones I have been avidly following are those of fellow Arivacanese bloggers Chris, Sara and Kristin. I know Kristin lives in Estonia, but she is spiritually Arivacanese. Everybody in Arivaca came from somewhere else, but they were Arivacanese before they got here. Some like myself just did not know it.

Come 2006 I think I am going to have to come up with a new job search strategy. Obviously there is no hope of me getting an academic job in the US. I wasted a lot of time and effort this year on stupid applications that never had a chance of garnering an interview. American academics only hire clones of themselves. But, I will leave the hard thinking about creating income out of a Ph.D. in Oriental history to next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Operation Ulusy

Today in 1943, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree with the title "On Liquidating the Kalmyk ASSR and Founding the Astrakhan Oblast as a Component of the RSFSR." The decree accused the Kalmyks of mass treason against the Soviet Union and ordered, "1. All Kalmyks living in the territory of the Kalmyk ASSR are to be resettled to other regions of the USSR, and the Kalmyk ASSR liquidated." The following day the NKVD and NKGB began implementing this decree.

Code named "Operation Ulusy" the deportation of virtually all Kalmyks from the Kalmyk ASSR took place during 28-29 December 1943. Nearly 3,000 NKVD and NKGB officers along with over 1,200 NKVD internal troops loaded over 93,000 Kalmyks into cattle cars bound for Siberia. Due to the overcrowded conditions and lack of bathing facilities during transit many deportees became infected with typhus. This disease resulted in a high death rate during the journey. The NKVD itself recorded over 1,250 deaths during transit. Mortality due to poverty related diseases only increased upon arriving in Siberia.

The Soviet government originally dispersed the survivors across Omsk Oblast, Altai Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Novosibirsk Oblast as well as a couple thousand in Kazakhstan. The Stalin regime placed them under special settlement restrictions and assigned them to work on collective farms, state farms, forestry enterprises and industrial artels. Later the Soviet government relocated thousands of Kalmyk special settlers to forestry work in Tomsk Oblast and fishing trusts in Tiumen and Sakhalin oblasts. In exile the Kalmyks lived and labored under extremely difficult conditions. They lacked adequate food, winter clothing, proper shelter and other necessities. In early January 1945, one NKVD report to Beria noted that some 28,000 exiled Kalmyks had no food. Lack of proper sanitation and medical care led to the spread of often fatal epidemics among the deportees. Tuberculosis in particular proved to be a major killer of the Kalmyks exiled to Siberia. Before the end of 1948, the NKVD had registered over 17,000 deaths among the deported Kalmyks. This incredible demographic loss took the Kalmyks decades to make up. Only in the 1970 Soviet census did the Kalmyk population exceed the number counted in 1939 and then only by a little more than 2%.

The Soviet government only released the Kalmyks from the special settlment regime on 17 March 1956. On 11 February 1957, the Soviet government created a Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast in the traditional Kalmyk homeland and allowed the survivors of the deportation and their descendants to return home. On 29 July 1958, the Soviet government upgraded the Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast to the Kalmyk ASSR. Neither the Soviet government or the Russian Federation have done much to recognize or come to terms with this horrific crime against humanity.

Academic Relatives

This does not refer to blood relatives I have that work in academia. Although I did have one second cousin who taught at Oxford and my father held positions at University of Queensland and Virginia Tech. No it refers to people with the same lineage of supervisors as me. The Little Professor had a blog post that dealt with this subject a while ago. At anyrate this lineage at one time had great importance. It no longer has any practical influence. If it was still important I would be working at a first rate university now. My Doktorgrossvater is Rashid Khalidi. Unfortunately the days when my supervisor could call up Professor Khalidi and get me a job are long gone.

I bring this up because I got an e-mail today from my Doktorschwester in Turkey. I get so little real e-mail that I can almost justify a blog post for each separate piece. She is the only one of six academic siblings I even know. She started the year before me and finished the year after me. The e-mail, however, reminded me of the post at The Little Professor and got me thinking about the idea of academic lineages. My supervisor did not have alot of influence upon my dissertation. He is an Ottoman historian specializing in 19th century education and I wrote about Soviet deportations. They assigned me to him because two of the three deported peoples in my dissertation had been associated with the Ottoman Empire prior to coming under Russian rule. He pretty much gave me a free hand in writing the thesis. So there is not any geneology of intellectual influence that can be traced from my work back through my supervisor to Khalidi.

Geneological charts, however, have two directions. They show descendants as well as ancestors. Now it is true I do not have any formal students as official advisees to carry on my scholastic genes. Guru Pohl, however, does have a number of informal students whose work does show his influence. In the future I hope to be able to map a huge intellectual dynasty with numerous descendants.

Monday, December 26, 2005

300th Post

This is my 300th post just in time for Boxing Day. Feel free to print it out and box it up for your servants. I have a feeling my half dozen readers probably don't have many servants, but one never knows. We had one slice of the traditional Christmas pizza to box up. But, we don't have any servants here on the ranch. We don't even have an Estonian toad shepherd, the most important of all OTM workers for the super elite of Arivaca. Well at least we don't have to put up with labor unrest from humans. We get enough wildcat strikes from the machinery here, especially the internet connection.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Brian Williams Update: DHS visit was a hoax

It turns out that the story about the student being visited by DHS agents was a hoax. When Brian Williams tried to clarify the story, it and the student fell apart. He really should not have lied to Brian. I find dishonesty to be quite distasteful. Dr. Williams is one of the few honest people in American academia and trying to make a him party to a hoax shows that the still unamed student is seriously lacking in moral character. Had the story been real Brian would have gone to bat for him.

Today was a very good day

Well today I started my little Christmas break. I got confirmation this morning from Austin that the book editor had received my revised book chapter in good order. My uncle and I got a package of gifts from my folks in California. Now there are some packages under that replica of Charley Brown's Christmas tree my uncle dug up and put in the living room. I talked to my father and he is making a very good recovery. The weather today was fantastic. I spent the afternoon outside in the hookah lounge. Today's flavor was mint. It was even warm enough at night that I could grill Arivaca wings outside again. Yes, today was a very good day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

New addition to blogroll

I have added Nathanael D. Robinson's Rhine River to my list of linked blogs. He is a graduate student specializing in continental European history, particularly the border region between Germany and France. He replaces the link to the now apparently dead Lonely Londoner blog.

Some Good News for Christmas

In the last couple weeks I have gotten a few pieces of good news. First, I finally finished revising my book chapter for the project in DC and sent it off. I sent a "carbon copy" to Austin as well just to make sure somebody in charge receives it. I have been having trouble connecting to the internet again. The original complaint made in the declarations of Mesilla and Tucson about lack of adequate communication infrastructure in southern Arizonza has never been properly addressed. But, then again neither has the complaint about failure to secure the border. However, it has only been 144 years so I am sure they will get to it soon. Second, the graduate student I helped with a research paper earlier this month got an A on the paper and in the class. I just got a thank you note from him. Finally, most importantly, my father's bypass surgery this week was a success. He and my mother will not be able to make it out to the ranch for Christmas because of it. But, I am very glad they found the blocked arteries and bypassed them before he had a heart attack. The population of Serenity Ranch wishes Dr. Pohl Sr. a very speedy recovery.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thank you notes and deportations

Today I got two thank you notes in my e-mail. The first one was from a student that asked me for assistance on researching deported peoples in the USSR. I sent him an 11 page bibliography to start off. Unfortunately, I have not been able to come up with the next step to help this student. On the off chance that one of my few readers might be able to help in this matter I am going to throw out what I need right here. The student will be going to Uzbekistan soon and would like to meet with a representative of the Crimean Tatar community there. At one time I thought I had the contact details for Ali Hanzim in Yangiyul, but I can not find anything in my files. So if anybody has a contact among the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan that would be willing to talk to this student, please let me know. The student speaks Russian.

The other thank you note I got was from Vladimir German and his family. I wrote a report on the history of persecution of Russian-Germans in Kazakhstan that helped win them political asylum after DHS initially denied their claim. They denied the claim after the family had been in the US for 13 years with a pending application. During that time they learned English, held jobs, never violated US law and purchased a house. Had they been sent back they would have faced official discrimination for being descended from German immigrants to the Russian Empire and hence not ethnic Kazakhs. The two children for instance would have certainly been denied university education had they been deported. My Ph.D. did not give me any more knowledge than I probably would have had already. But, it did give me credibility with the judge and helped save four people from being sent back to a place that had done nothing to make itself inclusive of its German minority and much to make them second class citizens. So even if I never get an academic job I can always say that my degree helped save four very nice people from deportation to Kazakhstan and the misery it would have entailed. That puts me four people above all the hypocritical "anti-racist" academics who have never saved anybody from racial discrimination in their life.

Human Cost of Communism part III

The most famous institution of Stalinist repression is undoubtedly the Gulag a word formed from the acronym for Main Administration of Camps in Russian. Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago published in 1973 popularized the term in the US and Europe. In popular use the term Gulag refers to the system of corrective labor camps (ITLs) and corrective labor colonies (ITKs) under Stalin. Due to substandard living conditions including poor housing, insufficient nutrition, physically demanding and dangerous labor, lack of proper sanitation and routine brutality by guards and other inmates this system killed a very large number of people. The figures for deaths from these causes in the Gulag are incomplete. They do not include deaths during transit or people who died shortly after being released from the camps for instance. The practice of releasing prisoners on the verge of deaths from the camps was fairly common.

The total number of recorded fatalities in ITLs and ITKs from 1930 to 1956 is 1,606,748 according to SANO (GULag medical department). A full 1,053,829 of these deaths took place in ITLs from 1934 to 1953. Since these figures are incomplete it is not far fetched to assume that the actual number of deaths due to incarceration in the USSR during this time is significantly higher. How much higher is a matter of speculation. Anne Applebaum suggests that the figure should be nearly doubled to 3 million to take into account unrecorded deaths.

Further discussions of the numbers involved in the Gulag can be found in the following works.

Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History (NY: Doubleday, 2003).

Oleg V. Khlevniuk, A History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror (Yale University Press, 2004).

J. Otto Pohl, The Stalinist Penal System (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997).

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Interesting Fact I Learned Today

Not all the French Resistance was French. A number of fighters in the French underground were Moroccan Arabs who had been stationed in France as part of French organized colonial units prior to the German invasion. I had never thought about the role of people from North Africa and other French colonies in the French Resistance before. Given the large number of Moroccans in the French military prior to World War II it is not surprising.

CSA and Native Americans

Recently a number of bloggers have expressed surprise that a Confederate textbook had a favorable entry on Native Americans. It is only surprising because the politically correct leftists who dominate the US universities have brain washed so many people into thinking Jefferson Davis was a 19th century version of Adolf Hitler. It is a well documented fact that the CSA had a more favorable policy towards Native Americans than the Union. Only American academics seem unaware of this fact. Foreign historians seem to have no difficulty grasping it. For instance British historian Nicholas Hobbes has the following entry in his small book, Essential Militaria: Facts, Legends and Curiosities About Warfare Through the Ages(New York: Grove Press, 2003), p. 139.

The Five Confederate Tribes

The Native American tribes given rights by the government of the Confederate States of America, which were denied them by the U.S. government. They served in cavalry units and as scouts. The Union victory deprived the tribes of their remaining rights, leaving them worse off than before their involvement in the American Civil War.



My uncle has me digging holes again. This one, however, is not actually for a post. It is instead for him. He has a shooting range on the ranch. Recently he has been complaining that he has been shooting very poorly. Part of this he thinks has to do with the difference in elevation between him and the target. He figures if he is a couple of feet lower then he will have better accuracy. It might be true. At anyrate today I was out digging a hole for him to stand in while he shoots. Tomorrow I will be making it bigger and putting in a wooden floor. My uncle sometimes comes up with very creative solutions to problems here on the ranch.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Human Cost of Communism Part II

Each of these short posts is going to deal with an aspect of the Soviet death toll under Stalin. This first post deals with the deaths of those exiled as "kulaks" to special settlement villages during the 1930s. The mass deportation of farmers branded as "kulaks" to special settlements in the Far North and Urals began in 1930. Later the OGPU (Unified State Political Administration) exiled "kulaks" to western Siberia and northern Kazakhstan. A very large number of these deportees died of hunger, illness and the cold. The Soviet records regarding these deaths are woefully incomplete. The data for 1930 and 1931 when deaths were highest is very fragmentary. Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk estimates special settler deaths during these two years at 200,000. An official Soviet figure of recorded deaths for special settlers for the years 1932 to 1940 does exist. It comes to 389,521 exiles. This number, however, does not include deaths in transit to the special settlements. It also does not include those who died trying to escape. A large number of those recorded as escapees may also have actually been deaths. The total number of registered escaped special settlers during the 1930s reached 629,042. Only 235,120 of these fugitives are listed as having ever been returned to the special settlements. How many extra deaths can be added to the nearly 400,000 recorded by the OGPU and NKVD is hard to say. But the total number of people to die during the 1930s as a result of being deported to special settlements certainly exceeds 600,000.

Sources for figures

Oleg V. Khlevniuk, The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror (London: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 327.

Pavel Polian, Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004), p. 92.

Colleague in the News: Brian Glyn Williams

I see that my colleague and past collaborator Brian Williams has made it into the news again. It is starting to spread through the blogshpere, but most of the links seem to be available at Cliopatria where Ralph Lurker has posted about it. I particpated with Brian Williams on three Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN) panels at Columbia University. The first two were in 2000 and 2001 before I went to SOAS. At the time he was a lecturer at SOAS and his recommendation undoubtedly played a key part in me getting into the MA program there. He also wrote the article on Crimean Tatars for the special topic issue of the Journal of Genocide Research I edited. It was vol. 4, no. 3 (Sept. 2002). I last saw him at the ASN conference in 2004 where he served as the commentator on a panel I organized dealing with the Crimean Tatars.

It appears that one of his students was visited by DHS recently. So the local newspaper interviewed Brian. It is unclear as to what prompted the visit. The claim is that it was getting a copy of Mao's Little Red Book by inter-library loan. But, the student's travels and political activities also appear to have played a not insignificant role in alerting DHS.

As to my comments on the greater meaning of the story all I can say is that if the DHS visits me please bring job applications. As long as you pay at least $30,000 a year plus medical benefits I'll work for you. It may not be as prestigious as being a professor, but at least it is work that pays more than minimum wage.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday in Serenity

Okay, the sun has returned after abandoning us yesterday. Right now we are again in Utopia mode. I worked for a while this morning on the book chapter and got the demographic section hashed out. It turns out that in fact I had the same number I needed in the lost document in another document. Which I suspected might be the case since many NKVD reports tended to be summaries based upon earlier head counts. I also wrote a short paragraph on the decrease in births in exile due to malnutrition, family separations and other factors. I am not going to do any more work today until after the sun goes down. Now I am going out to the hookah lounge to smoke banana flavored tobacco and read about Afghanistan.


Right now I am revising the part of my book chapter dealing with demographics. It is not going as well as I would like because I am missing a document and all my notes on it. They are in California. Before I left Virginia I asked for the revisions so I could do them while I still could go to the Library of Congress. They said they couldn't give them to me until months later. So I had no idea what they were going to ask for and bringing all my notes would have been impossibe. I am just going to have to substitute another document that is relatively close in date. The new number should be within 5% of the one I originally used.

At anyrate the excess mortality caused by the deportations reached extremely high levels. In total it resulted in at least 450,000 deaths beyond the expected mortality rates of the eight nationalities confined to special settlement restrictions in their entirety during the 1940s. This number constitutes almost 20% of the population under examination. Russian-Germans accounted for over half of these deaths and the vast majority of the remainder came from Muslim nationalities native to the Caucasus and Crimea. Out of all the deported nationalities the Chechens lost the greatest percentage of their population from the disease, malnutrtition and exposure that resulted from the poor material conditions the Stalin regime imposed upon them in exile. Excess deaths among the Chechens exceeded 30% of their total population. Only one other people in the world, the Jews, lost a comparable portion of their population during the 1940s.

This grim number crunching has inspired me to do a series of posts on when I finish revising the book chapter. I have been frequently asked in conversation about the total number of Stalin's victims. Giving an exact total is of course impossible because the records are incomplete to say the least. But, enough data exists to give a fairly good estimate now I think.

Quantifying the Human Cost of Communism Part I

Every so often I get asked about how many people did Stalin kill. It is impossible to give an exact number because the records are of course incomplete. There is also the question of exactly what categories of death one counts. But, enough data exists to give a rough estimate. The categories I think should be counted towards arriving at a total death toll due to the murderous actions of the Stalin regime include deaths from deprivation in labor camps, deportation trains, special settlements and the artificial famine of 1932 to 1933 as well as executions. Many revisionists seeking to reduce the Soviet death toll in comparison to Nazi crimes seek to dismiss this last category of deaths as something other than state directed mass murder. Chief among these revisionists are Mark Tauger, Barbara Green and Stephen Wheatcroft. The last of these revisionists also seeks to minimize the moral gravity of Stalin's other crimes as well. His claim that Soviet executions during the Great Purges were a lesser crime than Nazi killings because the former were "legal" and the later "illegal" makes no sense what so ever. Both were "legal" under the regimes they took place under. Likewise both would be "illegal" under the system of international law that evolved after World War II. His dismissal of deaths in Soviet labor camps as "manslaughter" rather than murder while claiming that deaths from the same causes in Nazi camps was "murder" also makes no sense. So my series of posts on the subject of mortality in the USSR due to Soviet repression will not be making any such distinctions. In my opinion such revisionists of Stalin's crimes are far worse than David Irving because they teach Soviet history in western Universities without any protests from so called "anti-revisionists."

Books I wish somebody else would write

A long time ago I posted a rather long entry on books I would like to write in the future. This list is on books I would like to read, but do not wish to write. In fact I probably lack the skills needed to write them. Things like reading non-Indo-European languages are not easy to acquire. The wish list is in no particular order. If any of these books have been written please let me know so I can try and acquire them.

A comparative history of desert agriculture, particularly cotton in Central Asia, the Middle East and the US South West including Texas.

A history of the hookah.

A comparative history of Native Americans explaining why the Navajos seem to have fared better than almost all the other indigenous peoples of the US.

Progress on book chapter revision

Yesterday and today, I got some work done editing my book chapter. It is more difficult than I initially anticipated. The editor wants me to make connections with the other chapters in the book. This is a good idea to provide continuity. But, it took me a while to remember even what the other people wrote about. It has been a long time since I read their draft chapters. Also she asks for some additional information in parts. Since I do not have access to a research library I have to make due with the notes and books I have here. I have found some stuff, but I am not sure I can find all of it. Right now I am thinking that I probably can not.

For instance she asks when the deported peoples fighting in the Red Army were removed from the ranks and sent to special settlements. Except for Russian-Germans and Karachais I can not find the exact decrees that ordered their removal from the military. I have a lot of Soviet documents with references to their transfer from the armed services to exile in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Siberia. But, most of them just refer to the years 1944 to 1948 which I take to be the time period it took them to all arrive in the special settlement zones. This extended period is due to first sending many of the "punished peoples" to forced labor battalions under GULag administration known collectively as the labor army.

Other questions I am not as sure how to tackle. She has several on the lack of assimilation of the deported peoples with the surrounding population while in exile. In order to keep it short, she wants one sentence additions in each place, I am having to think alot about what to write. So the paper is taking a bit longer to revise than I anticipated.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where does Afghanistan go?

As part of my effort to expand my all too limited knowledge about the countries surrounding Soviet Central Asia I have been reading about the history of Afghanistan recently. Geographically Afghanistan has served as a buffer state for much of modern history. Hence it has been easier to say where it was between rather than where it was. It is between Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia. However, not many institutions group these areas together. Usually they are considered separate regions and separate departments will exist to deal with each of these geographic divisions. Where they put Afghanistan is up to each individual institution and there is no standardized classification. At the University of Arizona, Afghanistan is considered part of the Middle East. At SOAS Afghanistan is variously considered either part of Central Asia or part of South Asia depending upon the time period. The Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus calls it a neighboring region in its official pamphlet, but has sponsored a lot of events on the situation in Afghanistan since 2001. In contrast Dr. Akiner's Central Asia: History, Politics and Religion MA course did not cover Afghanistan. Hence in modern times it appears that Afghanistan has been moving from South Asia into Central Asia as far as SOAS is concerned.

Historically, I think Afghanistan's connections with India both under the Mughals and later the British makes it a closer fit for the South Asian category than either Central Asia or the Middle East. Almost equally as important, its independence from the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union excludes it from the shared modern history of the core countries of Central Asia. Placing it in the Middle East is even more problematic. Afghanistan's historical ties to the Middle East are mostly with Iran. A country that is itself outside the Arab core of what most Middle Eastern studies departments concentrate upon. I believe a good case could be made to group Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan together as a unit of study on the basis of a shared Persian heritage. There are no institutions, however, that I know of that do this. More importantly I think Afghanistan shows the problems with the current geographic divisions of study. In reality Afghanistan is Central Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern to various degrees. It can not be completely characterized as being part of only one of these regions. While perhaps an extreme case, Afghanistan is not the only country in the world that defies the current geographical divisions that academia has imposed upon the world.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sunshine again

Yesterday was cloudy again. But, today we have sunshine. That means we also have water. After I take a shower I am going to sit in the Hookah lounge and work on my book chapter that I still need to finish editing. It is on the loss, retention and re-aquisition of social capital among the deported peoples in the USSR. It is more interesting than it sounds. Today's hookah flavor is vanilla. Chris is not allowed near the hookah with any chile peppers. Also a piece of trivia for Kristin. An Ottoman Sultan was the first person to smoke tobacco from a hookah which is known in Turkish as a narghile.

Interesting fact I learned today

Evidently in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the University of Arizona sent people over to the Ottoman Empire as part of an effort to learn how to better farm in the desert. There are a lot of climatic similarities between the South West and the Middle East. So it makes sense. Maybe my South West/Middle East fusion idea for the Chicken Shack and Hookah Lounge is not as original as I thought. But, I think I can carry it to new heights. Just imagine prickly pear flavored shisha.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brief update

Today, finally after six days of cloudy weather we have sun again. This also means we will have water again since our well pump is powered by solar panels. A lot of people who do not use solar power tend to glorify it because it does not put pollutants into the air. This is true. But, solar power does not work at all if there are any clouds what so ever blocking the direct rays of the sun. Even in southern Arizona this can go on for days and even weeks at a time.

I started editing the book chapter I got back from DC. I hope to finish it and get it sent back before Friday. Due to previous internet problems it is running quite late. I should have gotten it in September and I just got it on Monday.

I found one last academic job opening that is broadly in my field. I figure I can afford one last $1.06 lottery ticket. Fortunately, unlike most US applications this one only asks for two letters of recommendation rather than the usual three. Two is standard in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. I do not know why US institutions usually insist on three other than to just to put another petty obstacle in my way. Finding people to write recommendations has always been very difficult for me. Most people do not want to do it. Given that it does not appear to improve my chances much above zero I can understand why they would think it is a waste of time. Ideally search committees should just ask for a one page CV by e-mail if possible and then make their first cull before they ask for more material. Also instead of making me get three letters of recommendation sent by post each time they should just ask for the contact details of my references. Then if they feel they need to see the actual letters they can ask the individuals on the list to submit written recommendations. This would save everybody a lot of time, effort and money.

Tomorrow I am going to Tucson to meet somebody at the suggestion of my supervisor. I do not know if the meeting will help me in my job search. But, it can not hurt it. The great advantage of being on the bottom is you can not fall any lower.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Guru Pohl is contacted by another seeker of knowledge

Today I got another unsolicited e-mail from a student seeking knowledge about the deported peoples of the USSR. This initiate came from a very long distance to contact Guru Pohl. In the age of the internet this poses no problem. I welcome seekers of knowledge from all lands both domestic and foreign. I hope that I can help this student as well as I did the last one.

Woman in DC Slays New Mexican Cybermonsters

Well I finally got my book chapter with suggested revisions from the editor in Austin by e-mail today. They came to me by way of DC. After six failed attempts to deliver the document to me, the coordinator of the project in DC just grabbed the cybermonsters by the neck and dragged them all the way from New Mexico to DC. There she promptly slaughtered them with her bare hands. They definitely had it coming.

Now that I have the editor's comments I can revise the chapter over the next couple of days. It is my one outstanding piece scheduled for publication that needs editing. Fortunately, the desired changes are not substantial so they should not take me very long. I am just glad to finally have the document in my hands.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Time Festivities in Arivaca

Yesterday the library had its Annual Holiday Tea complete with live music and food, but no tea. The food was quite good, however. This was followed shortly afterwards with the Annual Winterfest at the Community Center. There they had even more great food, prickly pear tea and more live music. I got to see Chris O'Byrne play guitar and sing for the first time yesterday. He is quite talented. I can't wait until we record him playing "Live at Otto's Chicken Shack and Hookah Lounge." I also got to meet some of the local Arivaca notables at the Winterfest. Arivaca is probably the only community in the US where your social status does not depend on what type of job you have, how much money you have or what type of car you drive. So I was not immediately snubbed by these leaders of the community as would have happened just about anywhere else in the US. Even though I knew Arivaca was an exceptional place in this regard, this lack of a negative reaction to my economic circumstances always pleasantly surprises me.

I helped one person this month

I finished assisting the graduate student that e-mailed me out of the blue the other week. I think I did a good job. Even though no university thinks I am capable of teaching it seems like pretty easy work to me. It is certainly much easier, more enjoyable and pays infinitely more than working as a barrista. I am totally at a loss how anybody with a job teaching at a university could have any complaints. At anyrate unlike the paid professoriat I am always available to assist students or anybody else seeking help in acquiring knowledge in my field of study. Just send me an e-mail with your questions. Also unlike the professoriat I believe if you fail to understand something I explain it is my fault not yours. Guru Pohl welcomes and loves all seekers of knowledge. Professors who blog about hating their students should be fired. It would greatly improve higher education in this country.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Exile in paradise

In the last two years I have sent out over 100 applications for positions as either a starting lecturer or post-doctoral fellow. A little less than twenty are still awaiting review. So far I have only gotten one interview. It was for a position overseas that would have paid $500 a month. They gave the job to somebody with far fewer publications. It does not look like I will get another interview anywhere. It is apparent that US universities put no value what so ever on publishing or research. There are plenty of people who are ABD with no publications that have been hired as assistant professors in the US. I have two scholarly books, a half dozen peer reviewed journal articles and a Ph.D. finished in a record two years at Europe's finest institution for the study of Oriental history. This all counts for absolutely nothing in the calculations of the search committees for US universities.

So it appears that I will probably not be starting a new job in academia next fall. Instead I will most likely be living indefinitely in Arivaca. Or at least until I can come up with an alternative career plan. I sat out on my meditation slab yesterday trying to figure out a job I could do that would at least pay the rent on a studio apartment. I did not come up with anything. The cost of rent alone in the US now exceeds minimum wage just about everywhere. So unless somebody comes forward and offers me a job that can cover basic expenses it appears I am exiled in paradise. If one has to be unemployed with no money then Arivaca is probably the best place in the world to do it. Until somebody does offer me a job I can get lots of writing done, expand my intellectual horizons and create a whole new school of cooking.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Sunrise in Arivaca

The sunrise this morning was absolutely spectacular. Today I intend to do some writing on Catherine's Grandchildren, get some book proposals for my dissertation put together and try and finish the history of the US 9th Cavalry I have been reading. Now that I am no longer filling out tedious job applications with deadlines I feel alot less constrained.

Yesterday at the Hookah Lounge

Yesterday, Chris O'Byrne , one of my few neighbors stopped by Serenity Ranch. In addition to looking at my computer he tried out our smoking divan. We smoked mint shisha and hung out for a while. Unfortunately, he and Sara could not join my uncle and I for some fantastic Arivaca wings.

One regret over last week

I only have one regret regarding last week. A few days before my anti-virus software went dodgy I got an unsolicited e-mail from a graduate student researching a topic I have written about. He had read my second book and had alot of well thought out questions. Being cut off from my e-mail prevented me from communicating with him. Now that I am back online I hope that I can finish helping this student. It is not very often that strangers e-mail me with questions about a book I wrote six years ago. Rather than complain like many paid academics do when students ask them for help answering questions I relish the opportunity to assist this man without any financial compensation. The more I read cowardly pseudonymous academic bloggers the more I am convinced that the current American professoriat is only interested in themselves, hate their students and have no interest in furthering real knowledge.

Where Soul Meets Body

After coming back from being gone from the blogosphere for a week I have come to some conclusions. First, I need to stop reading any blogs written by academics, especially those too cowardly to use their real names. Reading bitter whinging by radical feminist professors who have few publications and hate their students, but think they are superior beings because they have a Ph.D. is bad for my blood pressure. More importantly, it detracts seriously from the groovey vibe of living on Serenity Ranch. I truly do live "Where Soul Meets Body." There is a reason why all the great monotheistic religions of the world came out of the desert. This is where God lives. You can see it in the beauty of the landscape. I am much more productive and happy when I think about my immediate surroundings and ignore the vile corruption that has oozed out of the ivory tower into the internet.

Arivaca Curry

Okay, I am going to ease back into blogging lightly here. Food entries seem to be popular in some quarters and never provoke hostile responses. So I will present you with my latest culinary delight.

The other night I was going to grill some chicken breasts marinated in hot sauce and Italian dressing. But, I ran out of propane very shortly after putting them on the grill. Our propane tank does not have a meter and I had not bothered to lift it recently to see how full it was. So I had to cook the chicken in the kitchen that night. I sliced up the breasts into small pieces using a very sharp knife and put them and the marinade in the wok. The fat from the chicken combined with the marinade to make a very tasty gravy. It reminded me of an Asian curry dish. I served it over rice and gave it the name Arivaca Curry. Like most of my great food ideas this one was the result of running out of something and having to find a substitute.

Technical Problem Fixed

My problem is now fixed due to the helpful advice of Chris O'Byrne. So I will be trying to update this blog on a more regular basis now. In my absence from blogging I got ten pages done on Catherine's Grandchildren, read Jay J. Wagoner's history of the Arizona Territory from 1863 to 1912 and invented Arivaca curry. The last feat will get its own glorious entry as befits all new additions to Arivaca cuisine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Technical Problems

Sorry for not posting recently. My anti-virus software is refusing to load. Until I get the problem fixed I am afraid there will be minimal blogging. I seem to have the worst luck with technology. On the other hand the break from blogging has let me get back to more substantial writing and reading. My popular history book is making good progress again now.