Saturday, May 31, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
- An audio slideshow from CNN.com; sounds and images from Arlington Cemetery.
- A piece from yesterday's Sunday Morning on CBS, also about Arlington.
- Another slideshow from CNN.com, this one an iReport in which ordinary people send in images and stories about the soldiers in their families who lost their lives.
- A story about Merlin German, the "Miracle Marine," who died a few weeks ago.
- And finally, links to a couple of poems that have been on my mind as well: Whitman's "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." I know the second is more about Lincoln than soldiers in general, but it is a beautiful poem about America, life, death, mourning, renewal and hope.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
So it's quite sad, I think, to read this article by Rebecca Walker, her daughter. I won't say much at all about the claims Rebecca makes about feminism--except to say that we see the personal price children pay when parents work for some larger cause. (I imagine politician's children sometimes feel this way, too.) Regardless of who is wrong or right here (and if it's "appropriate" for Rebecca to air her dirty laundry in this way), the fact that these two are so estranged is most unfortunate.
Speaking of Indiana Jones, I saw the movie yesterday and thought it was pretty good: some really cool action sequences (the motorcycle stuff early on is neat, as is the longish jungle chase, and some other stuff I am forgetting), the story was interesting (if predictable), and that Shia Whatever kid wasn't half-bad. The best part, though, was seeing Indy again. Harrison Ford still looks darn good and Indiana Jones is a great character. (Although apparently, the Russians aren't amused. Go figure. Actually, I've been in academia too long, because as soon as I saw the part of the film this article references, I thought, "Ohhh...I bet some people are going to be upset about the historical inaccuracy of that!")
Part of me is torn about the entire existence of "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." It seems that "The Last Crusade" was a kind of perfect ending to the story of Indiana Jones. At least from our Western worldview, it doesn't get much bigger or much more epic than the Holy Grail. But this was a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
Oh yeah--how mad would you be if that was your car that the five-million piece LEGO boulder crashed into?
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"That's why the time has come for Generation X to unite. We need to call bullshit on these naive, self-important crybabies trying to rob us of what is rightly our own. Remember how the Baby Boomers all turned into self-serving, narcissistic assholes who deified Michael Douglas in the '80s? The time has come for us to turn into assholes, too, minus the Michael Douglas part."
And one more...
"Still, it's never been sexy to be a Gen Xer. And that's the problem. Maybe we're responsible for the Spin Doctors, but if you cut through the bullshit, you'll see that we're not merely sexy. We're fucking hot:
We were the first bloggers. We created rap music. Silicon Valley. McSweeney's. Indie rock.
And we are the Internet generation. We founded Google. Wikipedia. DailyKos. Gawker. Meet-Up. MySpace. Ebay. YouTube.
We're not slackers. We are Tiger Woods, Snoop Dogg, Parker Posey, Tina Fey, Johnny Depp, Michael Jordan, Dr. Dre and Lance Armstrong, to name a few."It's an entertaining read, and best taken as a tongue-in-cheek piece, although it is true that kids these days (ouch--that makes me sound old!) can drive you up the wall. (And I am thinking specifically of the 17-23 year olds I see in the classroom, admittedly a limited sample.)
Ummm...wow. That's all I can say. And that's a whole lotta blue...
Nightmare material! You know how I feel about dummies. And how in the world would an album with a dummy be interesting? Isn't the whole appeal of ventriloquism visual?
A great record to pop in for your next party! Guaranteed to have lots of feel good songs.
Or maybe try this one at your next party. Because no one knows how to party like the Russians...
True story: Slim Goodbody came to my elementary school once and gave a presentation in the chapel. I still remember it. He scared the crap out of me then, and he still does today. That suit is all kinds of inappropriate, which I knew even at the age of six.
She really loves her drums. So many arms--she looks like a Hindu deity.
Well, sorry, but this one is just awesome.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Now the obligatory quoted paragraphs:
"America, ever-idealistic, seems wary of the vocational-education track. We are not comfortable limiting anyone’s options. Telling someone that college is not for him seems harsh and classist and British, as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines. I sympathize with this stance; I subscribe to the American ideal. Unfortunately, it is with me and my red pen that that ideal crashes and burns.
Sending everyone under the sun to college is a noble initiative. Academia is all for it, naturally. Industry is all for it; some companies even help with tuition costs. Government is all for it; the truly needy have lots of opportunities for financial aid. The media applauds it—try to imagine someone speaking out against the idea. To oppose such a scheme of inclusion would be positively churlish. But one piece of the puzzle hasn’t been figured into the equation, to use the sort of phrase I encounter in the papers submitted by my English 101 students. The zeitgeist of academic possibility is a great inverted pyramid, and its rather sharp point is poking, uncomfortably, a spot just about midway between my shoulder blades.
For I, who teach these low-level, must-pass, no-multiple-choice-test classes, am the one who ultimately delivers the news to those unfit for college: that they lack the most-basic skills and have no sense of the volume of work required; that they are in some cases barely literate; that they are so bereft of schemata, so dispossessed of contexts in which to place newly acquired knowledge, that every bit of information simply raises more questions. They are not ready for high school, some of them, much less for college."
- First, a Q&A with Joss Whedon. And can I add that the internet musical they talk about sounds like a ton of fun?
- Second, a (brief) photo essay on "The Women of Whedon" (actually a link I found on the first article).
- Third, a brief clip from the show itself.
Can you tell I am excited for this one?
If literary studies is a field in need of saving (and lots of people are making just that argument these days), then Jonathan Gottschall offers a solution: literary scholars need to become more like scientists.
His article is compelling and the kinds of projects he describes sound quite interesting, but I wonder how the rest of the field will respond to his ideas. Anyway, some key paragraphs from the end:
"The changes I'm recommending would constitute a paradigm shift. They would require deep alterations in what literature departments teach and how students are trained. Of course, graduate students would still take the familiar courses on Shakespeare, Victorian novels, and 20th-century poetry, but they would also take courses covering scientific research methods, the basics of statistics and probability, and current thinking in the sciences of the mind.
As the field developed, it would build a methodological tool kit that retained an honored place for the old skills of close reading and careful reasoning, but also included new scientific tools of study design and statistical testing. Literary scholars would keep their long shelves of books and their habits of good scholarship, but would also avail themselves of sophisticated text-analysis software, the psychology lab, and collaboration with researchers from scientific fields.
Above all, these changes would require looking with fresh eyes on the landscape of academic disciplines, and noticing something surprising: The great wall dividing the two cultures of the sciences and humanities has no substance. We can walk right through it.
If we literary scholars can summon the courage and humility to do so, the potential benefits will reverberate far beyond our field. We can generate more reliable and durable knowledge about art and culture. We can reawaken a long-dormant spirit of intellectual adventure. We can help spur a process whereby not just literature, but the larger field of the humanities recover some of the intellectual momentum and 'market share' they have lost to the sciences. And we can rejoin the oldest, and still the premier, quest of all the disciplines: to better understand human nature and its place in the universe."
Thursday, May 15, 2008
What's the big deal, you might be asking? Well, check out chapter twelve, baby!
That's right--written by yours truly. I'm actually pretty proud of this piece. I wrote it last year while teaching new four classes and doing the whole job search thing. On the other hand, I didn't have much of a life outside of work last year, so there's that to consider. Anyway, I think it turned out to be a pretty decent essay.
Want a copy for yourself? Buy one here. (Yes, it's expensive! You have my permission to wait for the price to come down--or for a paperback edition.)
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
"It is time for the academic world to recognize Wikipedia for what it has become: a global library open to anyone with an Internet connection and a pressing curiosity. The vision of its founders, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, has become reality, and the librarians were right: the world has not been the same since. If the Web is the greatest information delivery device ever, and Wikipedia is the largest coherent store of information and ideas, then we as teachers and scholars should have been on this train years ago for the benefit of our students, our professions, and that mystical pool of human knowledge."
His proposal that all academics with research interests become identifiable editors is interesting, too. I've never been confident enough to even consider it.