Chicago vs MLA

I wrote this many years ago, while I was in college.   I happened upon it again as I was searching for something else in my files and thought it would make a few of you smile.   So here is a short satire piece on a subject near and dear to my heart.                                                              

Chicago vs. MLA

My friends, I am here today to speak on a matter of the gravest importance. This matter has divided our disciplines for a number of years, caused an untold amount of grief for millions worldwide.  How to properly cite your sources in an academic essay, research paper, or a thesis; do we italicize the titles or do we underline them.  Where do the quotation marks go?  We are one world and in this world we need to be united.  United against ignorance, united against the death of all we hold dear, united against revisionist acts, and united against the death of culture.    But such unity cannot ever be achieved while we in academia are split into so many different factions on the basis of this one crucial detail, so small, so vital to the works that we do.  

How to cite your sources is an issue that has been fought and battled over for centuries.  We are all professionals here; we are all well versed not only in our chosen fields of study but often in other disciplines as well.  We can agree on other things.  What makes for a topic sentence is one example.   What makes for a good paragraph and what makes for a poor one is another.   But on this issue no one can see clearly, no one can compromise, and compromise is severely needed for both major parties in this struggle.  Academia cannot stand up proudly, united against the world, if indeed we have such divisions under our own roof.  President Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”   In this he speaks very clearly, Academia cannot hope to influence the world around us and work to bring change without being united in spirit and in truth.

 “To footnote or not to footnote” is a question that millions of students over the years have asked themselves.  Some professors prefer in-text citations or endnotes.  This is a matter of personal preference and as such we are not advocating that everyone adopt footnotes as the universal standard[1].  However, in the formatting of these footnotes and other citations, we do have cause for some alarm.   MLA, a format used and beloved by all English majors and professors is one of the most widely used styles.  This is the style that they pound into our heads all throughout high school and through all of the college English courses.   The problem with MLA is that not only is it complicated to learn and remember; it is also an inflexible style.   It was created for in-text citations and in-text citations alone.  

The Chicago style, preferred by historians and several of the other humanities, unlike MLA, is quite the opposite.  It has the flexibility to encompass in-text citations and footnotes and endnotes.   It is relatively simple to memorize and use.  It is, by far, one of the better choices, yet it is often laid by the wayside, untaught, and unacknowledged in the public and private schools.   This is a serious matter which needs to be addressed, ladies and gentlemen.   Only being taught one method of style can be a serious handicap for a young college freshman in their first semester. Citing sources goes hand in hand with writing papers and essays. When you write papers in college and you will write papers, that is an absolute basic fact of life, along with death and taxes. You will die, you will pay taxes, and you will write papers in college. Citing sources is a very integral part of that process, having more than one style often tends to confuse and befuddle students.  Some students entering college, it is sad to say, don’t even know what a footnote is, much less how to correctly format one.   Think of the children, the children who write, who want to contribute, but suffer under the burden of not knowing how to correctly format a simple footnote because of the problems inherent with having more than one style.

A prominent military journalist and English major torn between Chicago and MLA, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity due to fears of Oxford Comma Hit Squads, suggests that standardization is called for. “All citations are sacred, you know. If we allow this so-called “choice” in citations, what we’re really doing is killing words,” he said. “By killing words, aren’t we really killing the authors’ souls?”   A bit drastic, we feel, but we sympathize with his sentiments.  We agree wholeheartedly that standardization is just what we need to solve this issue.  A melding of the two camps, healing the breach between the two major disciplines involved in this dispute. 

To that end we suggest a committee be commissioned to explore the possibilities of paving a way so that a new style can be developed, a style that can encompass everything that citations should be, need to be in a way that would satisfy all the disciplines.  Because if this does not reach a peaceful compromise, I fear that the continuing battles back and forth could lead to something even greater and far uglier than the current struggles.    I fear an all out war between the disciplines could arise if middle ground cannot be found.   So many papers have already been sacrificed to the continuing strife between the departments.  Let us act now and save the future papers from this horrible struggle.   

In all seriousness, standardizing the style guides completely across the board (barring technical or scientific papers as the exception) so that there is only one style that students need to learn throughout all of high school and college would be an excellent move on the college’s front, especially for those lucky few double majoring in two separate disciplines.  It would make formatting papers more efficient and easier to do and also easier to grade.  There are more benefits than downfalls to standardizing the style with which we format our papers and citations.  Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your time.

 

 

 

 

[1] As useful and pleasant as we find them to be, we understand that not everyone shares our love for the footnote.

 

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Self-Care and Writers: An Update

Writers are not really great about this self-care thing.  Just ask the Internet or any writers you know.   We forget food, errands, sometimes hygiene, all because we’ve got fictional words driving us to type them out and make them real on paper/word processor.    It’s a thing.    The frustration when we’re not producing up to our own standards is also a thing (see above for helpful links regarding all of that).

Self-Care is important. 

I have a double-dose of forgetting about self-care because not only am I a writer, my family is also the worst at this.   We grind and grind until we drop and then once we’re back upright, grinding more.   We never stop and we’re not overly fond of slowing down from the things we need to get done.

So in a move that really surprises no one at all, least of all me, because of all of the compounded stuff in the last three-four months (okay really since April to be honest) – I  hit the actual burnout point.  Technically I hit it at the beginning of last month, but I still had a con to do at that point, so I pushed through it.   Which meant that I spent the entire rest of the month of October reaping the whirlwind exhaustion and fatigue from having just pushed myself so far without a whole lot of down or recovery time.

I did 37 total panels at four conventions in between  a trip to NYC, my baby brother leaving for college, my best friend coming for a weeklong visit, and a whole wealth of immediate and extended family events, house issues and the ever present, always fun medical issues.    I’ve been to Atlanta three times and Louisville once. I’ve had a short story published and invites to submit to three other anthologies, the Patreon is still running for various short stories and novellas, and we’re coming up on the major holiday season.  It’s been a lot lately.

I’m an introvert so recharging generally means I’m sitting somewhere comfy by myself, enjoying the quiet and stillness of just being inside my own brain and not needing to respond to any exterior stimulae unless I wanted to.  Unfortunately with a day job and cats who demand to be fed at regular intervals, recharging had to come at points where I wasn’t working at the full time day job.  So literally everything else had to get reshuffled around to make sure that I could have the time to refresh and recharge.  So that’s why there hasn’t been a lot of posting here from me here (if you follow on me on Twitter, different story, but Twitter doesn’t lend itself well to good thinky posts like I prefer to do here).   You’ll see more posting now, some of it normal updates like the reviews and the wednesday reads, some of them will probably be hilarious posts about November and writing/writers.   It’s deep into NaNoWriMo after all (i’m at 18k and change and I hit the part of loathing all the words ever, so really I’m right on schedule for the nanocycle of writing or if you prefer, I’m right at “The Tango of Mirth and Shame” ).

So hi, everyone!  I’m back and you’ll start to see a lot more posts floating your way very soon.

 

 

 

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Wednesday Reads and Readathon:

Welcome back to Wednesday Reads!

Having finished Ahsoka and Shadows Over Baker Street and still working my way through New Amsterdam (it’s amazing, but parts of it hit a little close feelings wise, so I am taking my time with it)  and State of Fear,  I’ve also added some books about the Voynich Manuscript and The Sword and The Shield:  The Mitrokhin Archive ( and the Secret History of the KGB).

Some of which is just casual light reading and some of which is research for pieces I am working on.   Reviews on the books I’ve finished will be coming soon.   I’ve got a convention this weekend, but I’ll be working on slinging them up as soon as I can.

What are you reading?   What would you like to see me read?  I always take requests (for just about everything except horror with very few exceptions).   Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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Renaissance Research: Book Edition

A friend asked me what were some good books to read if one wanted to do more research into the Renaissance. I assembled this list for her and thought it might also be of some use to people reading this blog!   So here you go – if you want to research the Renaissance, this is where I would start.   This is not an exhaustive list, but it’ll give you a good comprehensive grounding on some of the ins and outs and how to structure any further research you choose to do.

Margaret King’s The Renaissance in Europe
This is a fairly good informative textbook – King works more or less thematically through the Renaissance and it gives you a nice grounding in just about everything. It is definitely the book I would go to first before delving into more heavier researching.

Gene Brucker’s The Society of Renaissance Florence – A Documentary Study
My Renaissance and Reformation professor made a comment once in class, that just about everything that ever happened in the European Renaissance – you could find an example of that happening in Florence. He’s yet to be proven wrong. Florence is an amazing case study for the Renaissance as a whole, and that’s due in no small part because Florence is obsessively well-documented. Where the rest of Europe will have a hundred documents or so total – Florence (not to mention the rest of Italy) has thousands upon thousands of documents. Like King, it is organized thematically – but the documents that Brucker has selected give a very good picture of what day to day life was like.

Kenneth Atchity’s The Renaissance Reader
This compilation gives access to selections from the important literary, artistic, social, religious, political, scientific and philosophical texts of the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Louise Labe, Bruni, Dante, Chaucer, Villon, Malory, Copernicus and Shakespeare, as well as illustrations representing the work of Giotto, Donatello, Bellini, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael and Brueghel. It also provides first-hand encounters with the Renaissance in the form of letters, diaries, poetry and art.

Michael Baxandall’s Painting and Experience in 15th century Italy 2nd Edition.
The Renaissance was a highly material and visual culture – there are social cues and codes incorporated into the paintings of the time. This book is both an introduction to fifteenth-century Italian painting and as a text on how to interpret social history from the style of pictures in a given historical period, this examines early Renaissance painting, and explains how the style of painting in any society reflects the visual skills and habits that evolve out of daily life. Renaissance painting, for example, mirrors the experience of such activities as preaching, dancing, and gauging barrels. The volume includes discussions of a wide variety of painters, including Filippo Lippi, Fra Angelico, Stefano di Giovanni, Sandro Botticelli, Masaccio, Luca Signorelli, Boccaccio, and countless others. Baxandall also defines and illustrates sixteen concepts used by a contemporary critic of painting, thereby assembling the basic equipment needed to explore fifteenth-century art. This new second edition includes an appendix that lists the original Latin and Italian texts referred to throughout the book, providing the reader with all the relevant, authentic sources. It also contains an updated bibliography and a new reproduction of a recently restored painting which replaces the original.

Craig Harbison’s The Mirror of the Artist – Northern Renaissance Art in its Historical Context
This book looks at the Northern Renaissance and how that transformed differently from the Southern (Italian) Renaissance – it places the art inside the historical context of the time and overlaps with the Reformation. Fascinating reading and has some amazing pictures of the kinds of Northern Art that existed or developed.

These last two names are more along the lines of primary source material, but both are rather essential for sort of understanding Renaissance-era thought.

Niccolo Machiavelli – The Prince and Discourses I & II (Free)
Machiavelli wrote more than just the Prince -which should be required reading for everyone, everywhere, but I digress. His Discourses are also very valuable readings with regards to political thought – and he was more than a simple theorist, being the foreign minister of Florence in the early 1500s–until thrown out of office and tortured by the Medici in 1513–his Discourses and the Prince illustrate Renaissance Italy’s dangerous political environment, on which Machiavelli drew for his insights on political conduct.

Baldassare Castiglione – “The Art of the Courtier” (free)

This book is amazing. It addresses the constitution of a perfect courtier, and in its last installment, a perfect lady. It is the definitive account of Renaissance court life. The book is organized as a series of fictional conversations that occur between the courtiers of the Duke of Urbino in 1507 (when Baldassare was in fact part of the Duke’s Court). In the book, the courtier is described as having a cool mind, a good voice (with beautiful, elegant and brave words) along with proper bearing and gestures. At the same time though, the courtier is expected to have a warrior spirit, to be athletic, and have good knowledge of the humanities, Classics and fine arts. Over the course of four evenings, members of the court try to describe the perfect gentleman of the court. In the process they debate the nature of nobility, humor, women, and love.

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Knowing and A Certain Kind of Grief

There are certain things that we just know. It comes from how we were raised, what experiences we had in those formative years from two to twenty.

These things can span the length and width of the sum of human knowledge, every person is different. I was raised to be an officer’s wife first and then a pastor or missionary’s wife. There is a terrifying amount of knowledge that was crammed into me at an very early age because from a family that until my generation was almost completely comprised of retired, reserves, and actively serving members of the armed forces (all branches), you know the value of being prepared. So you start young, in the hopes that once you get to be older and life throws curveballs at you, that they will have prepared you to handle what gets tossed your way. That you will be able to deal with whatever situation arises in a way that does not bring shame on you, your husband/spouse, or your family. You sacrifice a lot when you do this, but the trade offs are thought to be worth it.

A common point in these two professions is that grief and uncertainty come hand in hand with the daily paper and breakfast. When you are an officer’s wife or the wife of a pastor/missionary. Everything under your spouse’s purview is also yours. The spouses and families of those serving under your spouse’s command or in their church are yours to care for, to handle when they need handled.

As we say in my household, you are the “adultier adult” for everyone. It is not a light burden to shoulder. In some ways, it can be infinitely harder to deal with. You are the point person that everyone comes to, because you know everything and everyone. So if there is an event that needs to be hosted or a food train arranged or someone to go and sit with the family as they make arrangements, that is on you to make sure that even if it cannot be you yourself there with them, that you have then arranged for a suitable backup person to be there as your deputy.

You are the quartermaster, the logistics, the human resources, the confidant, and so much more. Life is uncertain enough on its own, without adding the extra factor of a job that most certainly will put your spouse and possibly you yourself in harm’s way. That goes for both professions – the major difference being that more often than not, pastors and missionaries walk straight into all kinds of possible danger unarmed.  Uncertainty you can learn to roll with. You learn to always keep food on hand, wherever you are. To always make sure that whatever house or home you have, no matter how big or small, there’s always space for someone to stay there. The extra linens and towels that you keep washed and fresh even if you never touch them yourself. That there’s always 20 dollars in the emergency fund or tucked into that one family bible that you keep but never use (you have other, non heirloom holy books for study and reflection).

Grief is more slippery. You cannot control grief or how it manifests in people. All you can do is listen and pay attention. After a while, you develop a sense for who needs a box of tissues, and who needs to dig a new trench in the backyard or remodel a kitchen. You are always calm and sympathetic, you are always upright, appearing clearheaded, even if the reality is different. Appearances matter. No one after all sees the commander cry.

This has been on my mind recently, as I have, in the last few months, had to handle some very trying curveballs that life has pitched my way. It is even more present today, knowing that on Saturday, I am losing my little brother. He has chosen to go back to Brazil for work and college. He is going to a city where the closest blood relative will be a two day drive/bus ride away. He’s 18 and this is his prerogative, but having been in those shoes before, it’s hard to deal with. Especially after knowing that the only reason I didn’t starve or run myself further into the ground that I already had been doing was because of my wonderful family who gave me shelter, food, crash course lessons on everything from driving to budgeting to how to write papers while also making dinner. Who supported me in ways I hadn’t been aware of until much, much later on. It would have been so much harder to do all of that and still be as successful as I was without them there. I had a safety net and he does not. Not really.

And that is tearing at my soul in ways that make it harder to keep my composure. To be able to be the person handling all the little things that have been forgotten in the chaos and drama of this exodus. Because for a child that I raised for a significant portion of his and my life, it’s exceedingly hard to let him go, especially when it feels like I had just gotten him back. I also worry for the effect that this will have on my parents. He’s the last child, the baby of the family, and so there is a big house that will seem even bigger now. I worry for their mental and emotional health and also their physical health. I worry about what happens if my brother falls on his face and they bail him out. I worry, in part, because it feels like no one else is. Realistically I know this is not true, from all the myriad of conversations that I have had with seemingly everyone, but sometimes it feels like it is. The only way that I have been able to keep myself functioning, especially in the wake of having just come home (and what a wonderful thing, having a home that is mine that does not move) from a trip for the other side of family that was harder than I had expected. But I was trained for this and I know what to do, even if it feels like there’s a widening gap inside of me that is going to swallow everything whole. I swallow back the waves and carefully move through the next thing on my to-do list – I can fall apart later when it’s Sunday and I have a spare hour or two where I don’t have to adult.

I wish he wasn’t going like this. I wish I could have gotten him to listen more. I wish he wasn’t going to have to learn some of the same lessons I had to, the hard way. I wish this was easier.

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A Response To The Anti-Diversity Screed Leaked Today

https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-d…

So this went viral today and I want to encourage every white male I know seeing this to go ahead and read it. Because this is one of you. This is one of your peers.

The document is well put together, sounds calm and reasonable, uses bullet points and proper grammar. It is also tearing away at the humanity of women and non white men. Someone who looks just like you, who jokes around at the watercooler/coffeepot, who is one of the “generally good guys” felt comfortable enough to write this 10 page document and actually post it on the internet.

It is important for you to understand that this man? This educated engineer who wrote this steaming pile of absolute garbage? He is NOT an anomaly. He is part of the status quo and has been for a while. He’s not going to stop or pay any attention to any of the women who have responded to this document. We don’t matter.

The document made the news and has been circulating around everywhere and yet not once have I seen any article name the man that wrote it. The press had the courage to publish his screed that claims that women are biologically inferior to men, but not the courage to name him. If that claim sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been used for centuries to discredit anyone different who might present a challenge to the default white male status quo.

This is the kind of power that men like him have.

But how you respond to it will be important. Men like him are dime a dozen. Silence will be treated as tacit approval of these viewpoints. It’s rough to speak up – there will push back and I know the societal pressure will be to keep quiet. To not rock the boat.

This boat, however, needs to be rocked. Women and POC’s have been confronting things like this on a daily basis. So my question to you is will you stand up with us?

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RIP Adam West

So let me tell you a story.

I was an awkward kid whose imagination and personality and inner self was so much bigger than her actual skeleton was. I was smarter than was comfortable for my parents, but with (what we now know was Sensory Processing Dysfunction + being a military brat + very severe outdoor allergies) some weird issues that made socializing with other kids in my neighborhood all kinds of convoluted.

So there were days where I just couldn’t deal with everything outside my front door and where (this will be shocking for those of you who know me in person) I was tired of reading and re-reading. I hid in books a lot because they were safer than real people, but sometimes the words would just swim on the pages and that’s when I knew my brain was too tired to make the words come alive for me.

But we had Nick at Night and they had all of these amazing television shows and we had several other stations that had cool stuff on. Hands down, my top three favorites were Mission Impossible (which I watched with Dad cause it was so cool and I loved the characters and Dad always got super enthused and it was awesome to do that with him), Babylon 5 (which the number of times I literally did anything possible to stay up to watch live is kind of hilarious now), and Batman.

Batman in the Batmobile (credit: DC Comics)

When Adam West on the screen, everything else stopped. I would be there spellbound for as long as there were re-runs on my screen. My Batman is his Batman and always will be. I loved that show then and I love it now. There would be marathons on certain holidays and I would just sit there forever watching and rewatching the episodes. I could have seen the episode a hundred million times and yet if I came across it on tv, I’d sit down and watch it again.

Adam West’s Batman/Bruce Wayne was someone I looked up to a lot, because there was nothing that he couldn’t handle. There was nothing he couldn’t do and whatever decision he came to was always the right one. I wanted that kind of confidence and poise, I wanted to be as smart as he was. I wanted to be as hopeful as he was that eventually with enough time and education and helping others, world peace could be a real thing. I wanted his amazing dance moves.

And don’t even lie, ya’ll know what I’m talking about, the Batusi is a fantastic dance.

No matter what the world threw at him, Batman prevailed. He stood up to fight injustice and the bad guys and he always explained why it mattered that they were doing it that way to Dick. Which helped a lot to someone who actually needs to know the why before doing a thing. Because doing things just to do them is not a thing my brain is ever comfortable with. There’s got to be a reason behind it for me and some people are okay with explaining it and some people aren’t. Some people get really frustated always having to explain the whys. Bruce and Batman never got frustrated with explaining the whys and that meant a lot to see that.

And there’s so much more I could say about how much exactly this show did and does and forever will mean so much to me. Especially in this uncertain climate of fear and instability. The hope that permeates that Batman series is something that I can go back to when I get down and it always helps me find the hope and happy in the world again.

My roomie is the best and woke me up to tell me the news before I saw it on the news and while it wasn’t unexpected, it still hurts so much to know that from today on, we have to go on without him. It’s up to us to be that kind of example for the world now.

RIP Adam West.

Adam West as Bruce Wayne ( credit: ABC News)
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