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April 23, 2008

Prospectus Defense

Lots of folks (including me) are defending their dissertation prospecti at the end of this semester...what kind of experiences, hints, dos/donts, do folks who have already defended have for us young dissertaters?

April 18, 2008

Radical Reels April 26 @ Midwest Mountaineering

Get tickets now.

Midwest Mountaineering Presents Radical Reels

April 17, 2008

Horton, here's my boy...

Some terrifically insightful comments about race and feminism from a former basketball great.

Horton hears a racist

April 14, 2008

Computer Games and Children


Huzzah! A just defense of computer gaming as a medium to be compared--at least in critical terms--to books and film. I particularly love the comparison between using the word "addicted" for gaming vs. "engrossed" for reading (although it has been argued since the early '90s that the physiological habit of online interaction--not necessarily online gaming--can be linked to an actual "addiction," complete with mental and physical withdrawal).

Despite the latest numbers indicating that over 72% of Americans now play video games (link), I think there still exists elitist overtones that suggest that gaming is positioned on the hierarchical scale far below reading, and even under commercial television as anti-social, anti-educational junk-food. As James Paul Gee would say, games provide a vital form of education in today's burgeoning information and social networks, and to deny our children access due to a lack of understanding what options exist out there would be sheer folly.

April 13, 2008

Against Innovation for the Sake of Innovation


Technophiles are petitioning to keep Windows XP on new hardware past June. This reminds me of what happened when Windows '95 replaced 3.1. Everything became so much more opaque and the interface more roundabout (under the guise of "usability") that it left some feeling that Microsoft goes through new software like many auto-manufacturers go through new car models.

Whatever happened to the adage, "If ain't broke, don't fix it?" Or, in Microsoft's case, "If it ain't broke, don't expose it to umpteen security holes." Certainly, this little bit of economically-inspired technological determinism is nothing new... but one wonders if it will drive many more PC users to OSX.

It's just a shame that OSX is so bad for gaming....

April 11, 2008

Disaffected Academics in Film

Continuing on with Marnie's theme of academics in film, there's this article from the Washington Post.

Going by the Book: 'Smart People' Trots out the Standardized Characters

Dennis Quaid's bearded, bed-headed professor joins a long line of disaffected academics in the movies. (By the way... I went to Carnegie Mellon and I didn't even know they had a literature program? What an odd choice of schools.)

April 10, 2008

I Can Post!

I sing that inside my head to the music of Peter Pan....

As long as I have no life and all, I felt I might as well share something with the rest of you: quite a hilarious take on the recent--and inept--Congressional hearings regarding virtual worlds (in particular, Second Life, "the online game for those who don't have a first one").

From The Daily Show

While I must admit that I am thrilled by the prospect of virtual world discussion crossing over into the realm of politics (at least in a more explicit manner), using such a discussion as a forum for fearmongering isn't quite what I had in mind....

April 4, 2008

Incoming: Proficient Writers?

"About one-third of America’s eighth-grade students, and about one in four high school seniors, are proficient writers, according to results of a nationwide test released on Thursday..."

In Test, Few Students are Proficient Writers

April 2, 2008

Writing Studies: A Definition by Charles Bazerman Courtesy of David Beard

Definition of Writing Studies

Bazerman defines "writing studies" as composed of three kinds of investigation:

  1. the "historical picture of writing practices, genres, systems of circulation, and related institutions and social systems,"
  2. a "theoretical" project "to re-vision rhetoric from the perspective of writing and placed within some of the major strains of twentieth century social theory and social science"
  3. a practical examination of "writers' socialization into communal activities, the forms of engagement, positioning, and goals within those communal endeavors, and their emergent identities, commitments, and accomplishments as literate social beings'"

Theoretical, historical, applied. Three strands of research, perhaps typical of any discipline, for "the study of writing--its production, its circulation, its uses, its role in the development of individuals and societies, and its learning by individuals, social collectives, and historical cultures."

via Professor David Beard.