What I Learn from My Cats Part #1

Yes, we knew it was going to happen.  At some point, I would blog about my cats.  I'll reserve rambling on about how adorable they are--we all know there are hundreds of pics on my Facebook that illustrate this truth.  Instead, I want to talk about what my cats have showed and taught me over the last 18 months since they first came into my life. To be sure, I haven't had any epiphanies per se, but I've definitely found my perception informed by my interactions and caring for them.

First, let me introduce them.

PUMPKIN
Pumpkin is a short-hair Persian cat.  I got her in August, 2011.    As you can see from the picture, she as a "smooshed" face.  This can make her look both wonderfully adorable and somewhat perpetually grumpy (which then feeds into her adorableness).  She's a small cat, weighing in at about 7 pounds.  She's also a bit more timid and skitish.  I think this in part comes from her size and her lacking snout.  She doesn't appear to have the capacity to be a good fighter and regularly loses in her (playful) tussles with Bear.  Her smooshed face means, she doesn't have particularly great jaw strength and an extremely small nose also interferes with her ability to smell as well as other cats. She is not a cat that will do well out in the wild.

BEAR
I don't know Bear's breed; I'm guessing "mutt."  I was given her by a friend in June, 2012.  She's all black, which apparently are the least liked.  Yet, I find her an absolute delight and maybe all of this black cat crossing my path is actually accumulating good luck.  At ten months right now, she comes in around 9-10 pounds.  Of course, when she pounces on me, it can feel like 30-40 pounds.  She's still in her kitten stage in many ways.  She's continually playful with me and Pumpkin.  She continually wants to be on my lap or near me when I'm sitting or lying down.  She's also a headbutter, which I absolutely love.  When I come home at the end of the day, she will find the nearest counter to me and get up so she can headbutt my chin and purr--loudly...like a motor boat.  She's also has determined (and achieved) herself to be higher in the hierarchy than Pumpkin.  This is apparent when I may be lying down with Pumpkin on my chest and Bear comes in and nudges, paws, or pushes Pumpkin out of the way so that Bear and sit on my chest.

What I've Learned

First and foremost, I've learned how awesome cats are.  They get such a bad rep by many and growing up without any cats, they were unfamiliar.  My only experience would be with street cats that would run away and/or hiss.  Friends' cats never seemed entirely friendly and I always felt like an intruder in their presence.  But first Pumpkin and then Bear relieved me of such thoughts.

Who knew that they had such distinct personalities and quirks?  Well, besides everyone whose ever had one, right?  They do entail different means of interaction.  Bear is always underfoot and next to me, wanting my undivided attention, except when she's sleeping.  Pumpkin is more elusive.  At times, she's a bit skittish and if I move towards her, she darts away.  At other times, she roams the apartment crying out for my attention until she finds me.  She looks up at me with that adorable smooshy face and lets out a cry that just melts my heart.

She's done this enough that Bear too seems to have learned the trick and regularly cries out to me.  I think that was one of the biggest surprises.  I knew that cats meowed and a friend of mine even had a cat that downright talked when scarfing down her food.  But both Bear and Pumpkin cry out for me regularly to get my attention.  In fact, Bear does this when even when she is two feet away and as best as I can interpret it, it seems to be a cry for attention because as soon as I start petting her or holding her, she goes right into hyper-purr mode with a purr that sounds like a motorboat.

Both have a great inquisitiveness that's fun to watch.  They are naturally curious creatures and are continually trying to figure things out.  Even though Pumpkin is less bold than the fearless Bear (except when Bear's scared by the vacuum cleaner--no joke--she hides and trembles with terror), they both are constantly exploring within the apartment and anything I bring in.  Pumpkin is cuter in this regard. As she explores any new or questionable terrain, she's very light-footed and is constantly sending out a tentative paw to explore before stepping forward.  It's cute to see

As predators, their desire to be in control of the situation encourages them to find higher ground in the apartment.  I've found them on the fridge, on top of a wicker cabinet (they climb up this all ninja-like), atop a doorway gym, and atop a very narrow ledge of cabinet door.  I keep waiting for the day I come home to find them swinging from the ceiling fan (Gremlins style) or somehow have broken through the ceiling tiles and are wandering the netherworld between my ceiling and the apartment above's floor.

People assume that because cats are not dogs, they lack intelligence on the level that dogs do.  I don't know that I buy this as I find my cats are intelligent and much more manipulative than most dogs I've met.  My mother is quite amusing with my cats.  Early on, she got frustrated because they were not as responsive to her or won't let her hold them when she wants to hold them.  So her response to this has been to give them treats every time she comes to visit them.  What this did to the cats was to train them to associate her with treats and so when she does visit, they instantly bother her for treats (hanging out in the area she regularly delivers the treats).  Thus, they have taught her to give them treats.  Bear and Pumpkin may not roll over but they know how to purposely manipulate the world around them.  Pumpkin and Bear know that if they want my attention when I'm at the computer, they need to come directly into my eyesight and thus, stand in front of my screen.  They know if they want me to play they need to make a noise or distract me with a mess of some sort.  They may lack the obedience of the dog but they are quite intelligent as far as I've seen.

Pumpkin may be older and at least initially was bigger than Bear (Bear is now bigger), but Bear quickly established herself as higher on the hierarchy of the household.  She is constantly by my side and when I lie down at sit down, she is right onto my lap.  Occasionally, Pumpkin may get onto my lap when I'm sitting or onto my chest when I'm lying down to sleep, but Bear always arrives and chases her away to assume her position.  This happens with treats too in that  Bear assumes the right to all treats and then, if there's any left, Pumpkin can have the leftovers.  The only time I see a variation with this is the dry-food feeder.  I do wet food in the evening (to which Bear always takes first dibs).  But when the automatic dry-food feeder goes, Bear always stands back and gives Pumpkin first dibs before jumping in.  It's a curious switch given all the other times Bear seems to be the dominant figure.

Ok, that's it for now--there will be more to come, but these are the thoughts occupying my mind right now.

My 3 Favorite Internet Cat Videos


Scientific Proof that Cats Are Better Than Dogs


Cat Person, Dog Person

Cats Talking


#OwnedByCat
So I've taken to posting to the hashtag: #ownedbycat on Twitter about the different experiences and rules one learns as his or her cats come to adopt their human.  Most are silly, but occasionally, I might have a deeper thought of 140 characters.  Here's a Twitter widget for those interested in seeing some of those thoughts:



Questions about Cats
  • What is the headbutting all about?  Is it just their form of greeting?  I also wonder if it's a degree of comfort.  I usually have facial stubble so I wonder if it feels good for Bear or just is a sign of greeting and affection.  (Pumpkin doesn't do this and doesn't seem a big fan when I do it).
  • In my bathroom, I have a small linen closet next to the shower.  Every time, I go into the shower, Pumpkin insistently goes into that linen closet and onto the second shelf.  Every time, without fail.  I have to wonder if that's where  she does her deals with the Russian mafia.  What's that all about?
  • Pumpkin constantly scratches at the ground around where she goes the bathroom and where she eats.  In fact, she'll do this for up to 10 minutes after the fact.  Anyone have any ideas why?  Is she just a bit neurotic?  



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Social Media & Student-Faculty Project Update #3: Final Push!

So Social Media & Student-Faculty Interaction Survey is winding down.  I'm close to the 200 make, and am still hoping to get well over that mark in the ensuing days.  But in a final push, I thought I'd comment on some of the results thus far.

For those who are here for the first time, I would recommend checking out the first post about the survey or even if you haven't, take the survey.

So back in January, I did post some preliminary results to see where things were at.  Since then, there has been an improvement in the number of students, though not great.  The survey still consists of about 45%-55% make up between students and faculty.  But I can live with that.

At this point, I haven't divided the research according to faculty or students.  Thus the two charts below looking almost exactly the same, but I wonder if there will be differences when they are split up according to type faculty and student.
This is general usage of social media by faculty & students.
This is platform usage connected to student-faculty interaction

The quantity of faculty and student interaction is also likely to look quite differently when sussed out according to students and faculty.  The higher numbers are likely to represent faculty whereas the lower numbers are likely to represent students since that is the typical split.  Faculty have many interactions with students per semester in general whereas a student is likely to come into contact with 35-50 instructors over the course of their education.
Number of interactions between student and faculty
One of the more curious questions that I threw out about at what point did the student and faculty interact (before, during,, after) revealed some interesting results.
I was surprised to see that nearly 15% had engaged via social media prior to the start of the semester.  That opens up some curious ideas and thoughts (such as the value of pinging future students/faculty on social media networks prior to the start of class--could this improve the initial class cohesion?).

So those are some of the results for now.  I'm really hoping for one last final push to get more faculty and students to take the survey.  If you are looking for ways to help me, please check out this blog post where I list the ways in which you could help me spread the message further along the digital networks.

Also, I don't think I mentioned this before but I do plan on making the data available for usage anywhere.  That is, I will be granting access to the form and spreadsheet for people to make use of on their own, so if you're interested in that, be sure to either come back to the website to check it out or even subscribe to my blogs.  You can also "Like" the Facebook Page to keep on track with updates.



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Responding to the Value of Popular Culture


So there's this regular letter-to-the-editor writer for the Salem News, Malcolm Miller, who writes these 3-4 sentence quips that seem to largely disregard and condemn popular culture and society in some capacity or another.  Whether it's sports or talk shows, he is dismay with it all and with any who appear to take value in it.  Last month he wrote one called, "A Cultural Question."  Here is my response to said letter.  I originally sent it to the Salem News but they appeared to pass on it.  So here it is:

There is much to read that may not be considered "good.”  I believe Miller would appreciate the quote--though not necessarily the actual writings since they were more common--of  science-fiction writer, Theodore Sturgeon:  "Ninety percent of [science fiction] is crud, but then, ninety percent of everything is crud."

But as one who seems to value the authority of established "cultural assets," you might look to Plato.  He would be more likely to idolize the sports figure as a representation of the ideal than to idolize a book.  As he said in Phaedrus,

"Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise."

We live in a time where we have many forms of meaningful storytelling.  Books absolutely have a place in that world, but they are not the sole means of transferring and developing substantial cultural artifacts.  That we have become a culture of such diverse range and taste speaks more to our cultural complexity than any uniformity to a preordained and highly limited ideal.

Lance Eaton
Watcher of television, films, and even Youtube videos.
Reader of books, comic books, blogs, and even Twitter feeds. 
Listener of old time radio, audiobooks, great speeches, and even podcasts.




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Obnoxious Tones in the Childfree Debate

This article in the Daily Beast on childfree living that was brought to my attention definitely irked me...a lot.  It had enough condescension and judgment about the nature of childfree living that I got a bit twitchy and proceeded to write.  Many of you know that I have opted for the childfree life and regularly engage in the conversation about the conscious decision not to procreate.  I've read and discussed it here on this blog and most of my friends know--it's one of my soapboxes for sure.  I understand and appreciate why people procreate, I just don't care for it and I get annoyed about the ways in which people decide they know what's best for me and other people making the conscious decision. I get further annoyed when writers attempt to talk about people opting for childfree living deliver articles that still echo of judgment.  Of course, some child-filled folks aren't likely to see the strong bias or underlying misdirects that the authors point out since the childfree lifestyle is often foreign to them (note--it's foreign but not incomprehensible--no more than the child-filled life is incomprehensible to childfree folks.  Too many on both sides of the discussion argue that the other can't "truly" understand what the other's life is like.  I find that an extremely misleading assumption.  Our entire lives and interactions with one another are extraction of personal experiences to understand the other person and that has the potential to extend to all aspects of life).  

So here are some of the faults I find with the article. 

Let's start with the first paragraph:  "First, for many younger Americans and especially those in cities, having children is no longer an obvious or inevitable choice."  The problem here is the last bit:  "no longer an obvious or inevitable choice."  Since when is an "inevitable choice" considered an actual choice?  It's not.  If you can have any choice of color of a Model T Ford so long as that color is black--it's not a choice.  So the authors' frame to imply "choice" when historically there wasn't any speaks to a bias of that's what "should" be done.  This bias is made crystal clear by the second sentence:  "Second, many of those opting for childlessness have legitimate, if perhaps selfish, reasons for their decision."  

So not only do adults have actual choice, but they may have actual "legitimate" reasons to not have children.  However, one should be weary because those legitimate reasons are "selfish."  Wow.  First, the assumption that the decision to not have children is "selfish" while whelping out a pup is considered unselfish is problematic.  In many ways, procreating can be argued as an ultimate act of selfishness--particularly in a modern world where each child puts further demand on a ecosystem that humans are already overtaxing and in conjunction with the massive number of children who have no homes or families.  Choosing to procreate in that light would be seen as much more selfish and self-centered. 

But why do my reasons for not procreating need to be legitimized?  I've consciously and purposely chosen not to have children whereas nearly half the pregnancies out there are  "unexpected."  That suggests to me that our lack of legitimate reasons and conscious decisions for procreating in all likely still contribute significantly to the gender gap, since procreation invariably impacts females substantially more than males (both directly and indirectly).  That many can't legitimize their need to breed beyond "because" isn't entirely reassuring and again, given the aforementioned environmental and social issues above, are much more suspect and problematic.  After all, my decision to not procreate puts no further potential burden on the larger social system than that which I already represent.  But those who procreate increase the direct (in terms of resources consumed) and potential (should the parents rid themselves or lose the right to have said child) burden upon society.  But my decision needs legitimacy?  To be clear, it's not the act of procreation that I take fault with.  It's that my decision to not procreate needs to be legitimize and is regularly framed as "selfish" when there's clear reasons why we would want to legitimize the selfish decision to procreate.  

The next problem I see in this article is the term "Postfamilial America."  That somehow not procreating means you are beyond the traditional family?  Again, it hints at this idea of being non-family oriented.  However, many of the people I know that don't procreate are very-family oriented.  Connected and close with their families in ways.  And if by post-familial refers to the idea that we extend ourselves beyond our traditional family bonds; that too is inaccurate.  The 1900s gave us the nuclear family, but "family" has had a much larger meaning throughout history and extended to a variety of people that weren't necessarily family or superficially family.  
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Population_curve.svg/360px-Population_curve.svg.png
History of Human Population--we have little
 to fear about a population decline

The article flailing cries that "Postfamilial America is in ascendancy as the fertility rate among women has plummeted, since the 2008 economic crisis and the Great Recession that followed, to its lowest level since reliable numbers were first kept in 1920."  This statement is a bit confusing since first, by fertility do the authors mean women who are potentially fertile or women who have become pregnant?  But I think it's the nationalistic vibe that permeates the article that we see start to rise.  Population decline may be happening in pockets, but the global picture continues to be one of substantial growth.  We're 7.1 billion and counting.  In the course of visiting the Population Institute website for about 10-15 minutes, it was reported that the population had grown by 1000 net births.  

The authors continue to fixate on the concerns and challenges that are supposedly created by those selfish non-procreators.  Whose going to replace the workforce?  What about all those elderly entitlements?  (Of course, he seems oblivious to the fact that adults without children--particularly DINKs--are likely to have more resources to work with and be less of a social burden).  The authors are not concerned about the overall continued population growth in the world, but about the United States.  So much of the challenges that he points to--only exist because of a self-interested and one might say selfish approach to looking at human population.  These are artificial threats created by an artificial barrier called nation.  Here, the authors are playing upon a xenophobic bias (his own and the readers) to ignore the larger picture and just frame the US in a state of crisis (making note that we could go the way of Europe or Japan who also face population declines) that is in part, caused by the childfree selfish people.   

The overall assumption that the population growth of the 1900s was a positive thing seems ridiculous at best given when we know not only about the environmental impact but that in this country millions of children go undernourished and uncared for.  In the end, the idea that childfree living is somehow connected to a potential decline in our culture negates that the practices of the 1900s have created a variety of problems that childfree living actually addresses much more than negatively impacted.  Yes, we have benefited greatly from that growth--I won't argue that.  But the idea that it is sustainable and childfree people are compromising America's future by having legitimate yet selfish reasons for not procreating is ludicrous.  

Ok, there was a lot more that I wanted to write, but I think I'll save that for a book.  This article probably doesn't deserve any more attention.



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Recommended Books for my Pop Culture Class

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q-i8JvLxxfE/UC7Nt7X9C-I/AAAAAAAAAxY/1lCSCHaQw-A/s1600/genderoutlawbookcover.jpgI recently was asked by a student for further readings within a course I teach on Popular Culture.  The last two weeks we were dealing with looking at 2 thematic arcs.  The first was exploring the intersection of Race, Ethnicity, and Class with Popular Culture while the second was Gender, Sex, and Sexuality with Popular Culture.  Upon being asked, I figured I would peruse my library and assemble a good substantial reading list for the student (and ultimately the rest of the class as I made it a resource within the course) to enjoy.  Given that I had gone through the length to do so (thanks in large part to the ease of citation thanks to WorldCat), I figured I would also throw it out here on the blog as I'm sure there are others that could benefit from it.  

These are books that focus on those subjects mentioned above that have had a deep impact on how I understand them.  They are not the only books that I have read on the book, but they are the ones that have left me thinking long after I put the book down.



GENDER, SEX, & SEXUALITY
    http://images.angusrobertson.com.au/images/ar/abc06f16/abc06f16-13d5-4b15-8a6b-1922ef44155e/0/0/plain/the-supergirls-fashion-feminism-fantasy-and-the-history-of-comic-book-heroines.jpg

  •  Bederman, Gail. Manliness & Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
  • Bennetts, Leslie. The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much?New York: Voice/Hyperion, 2007.
  • Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw. S.l.: Vintage Books, 1994.
  • Califia, Patrick. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism. San Francisco, Calif: Cleis Press, 1997.
  • Chauncey, George. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books, 1994.
  • D'Emilio, John, and Estelle B. Freedman. Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
  • Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2000.
  • Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues: A Novel. Ithaca, N.Y: Firebrand Books, 1993.
  • Gamson, Joshua. Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  • Gilfoyle, Timothy J. City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920. New York, N.Y: W.W. Norton, 1992.
  • Gilmore, Glenda E. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  • Hawkeswood, William G, and Alex W. Costley. One of the Children: Gay Black Men in Harlem. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.
  • Illouz, Eva. Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. 
  • Kristof, Nicholas D, and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
  • MacKenzie, Gordene O. Transgender Nation. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1994.
  • Madrid, Mike. The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines. Ashland, Or.: Exterminating Angel Press, 2009.
  • Maines, Rachel. The Technology of Orgasm: "hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
  • Meyerowitz, Joanne J. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002.
  • Stansell, Christine. City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860. New York: Knopf, 1986.
  • Traister, Rebecca. Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women. New York: Free Press, 2010.


RACE, ETHNICITY, & CLASS
http://images.betterworldbooks.com/159/The-Possessive-Investment-in-Whiteness-9781592134946.jpg


  • Chomsky, Aviva. "They Take Our Jobs!": And 20 Other Myths About Immigration. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 2007.
  • Diamond, Jared M. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1998.
  • Du, Bois W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Bantam Books, 1989.
  • Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001.
  • Foley, Neil. The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
  • Glassner, Barry. The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1999.
  • Gray, Herman. Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for "blackness". Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.
  • Harper, Frances E. W. Iola Leroy, Or, Shadows Uplifted. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Hartman, Saidiya V. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Hunter, Tera W. To 'joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors After the Civil War. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997.
  • Jones, Maldwyn A. American Immigration. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
  • Class Matters. New York: Times Books, 2005.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools. New York: Crown Pub, 1991.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America. New York: Crown Publishers, 2005.
  • Lhamon, W T. Raising Cain: Blackface Performance from Jim Crow to Hip Hop. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998. 
  • Lipsitz, George. The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.
  • Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: New Press, 1995
  • Lott, Eric. Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.
  • Mills, Charles W. The Racial Contract. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.
  • Basic Call to Consciousness. Summertown, Tenn: Native Voices, 2005. Print.
  • Renda, Mary A. Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.s. Imperialism, 1915-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
  • Rothenberg, Paula S. Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
  • Schaefer, Richard T. Race and Ethnicity in the United States. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2001.
  • Schechter, Patricia A. Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
  • Smith, Michael P, and Joe R. Feagin. The Bubbling Cauldron: Race, Ethnicity, and the Urban Crisis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.
  • Touré, . Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now. New York: Free Press, 2011.
  • Trask, Haunani-Kay. From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 1999.
  • Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States: 1492-present. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
So what's on your recommended list for these categories?



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Social Media Project Update#2

So great news on this project front.  I will be presenting at the Massachusetts Community College Teaching, Learning, & Student Development Conference 2013 in April.   The focus is on social media and faculty/student engagement and I plan on bringing this research into the discussion. Below is the title and abstract.

Title:  Where Faculty Fear to Tread:  Role Modeling Civility in a Digital World

The rhetoric of social media boils down to being a miracle of the modern age or a clear sign of society’s self-destructive tendencies.  To this end, faculty and schools often fail in engaging their students through social media in meaningful ways.  So while colleges help equip students for the physical world, they poorly prepare them for the digital world.  This presentation looks at the ways and the whys for faculty and colleges to maintain a strong social media presence to aid and act as a role model for students in the digital world.  Just like faculty role model in students’ physical worlds, it becomes increasing important for faculty to be role models as digital citizens and work to develop students’ digital identities.  In an age in which applicants are Googled by interviewers, it’s important that faculty guide and encourage students to consciously maintain a public identity that both speaks to who they are and how they conduct themselves in this ambiguous and emerging new public sphere.  This workshop will address some of the concerns and misaligned fears about social media, identify some of the reasons and ways faculty can role model good digital identity, and provide some ways of constructing clear guidelines about productive social media between faculty and students.



So there has been some great response through email, Facebook, and in the comments sections by people about the project.  Since the last update on this project, I am now just under 140 participants that have filled out the survey.  That's great, but I'd really like to get more.  To that end I'm making March 1 the last day for submissions and I'm hoping that I can double the number of entries that I currently have, if not more.  So please, keep sharing this along and sending it to faculty and students.

For those that want to familiarize yourself with the original post or take the survey (or send the survey along to others, here is the information on that:

A few people have asked me about what they could do to help to support it and get more attention:

  1. Share a link on Facebook with your endorsement to this post (http://byanyothernerd.blogspot.com/2013/02/social-media-project-update2.html), the original call for participants (http://goo.gl/LOv3G), or to the survey itself (http://goo.gl/Y4q9n).
  2. Tweet about it with hashtags related to your school, discipline, or technology (2 good sources for relevant hashtags are Inside Higher Ed's Twitter Directory and Complete Guide To Twitter Hashtags In Education).
  3. Post it to your Google+ account.
  4. Like it on Stumble.
  5. Give it credit on Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/SampleSize/comments/17i96c/social_media_interaction_between_college/)
  6. Post it to your LinkedIn and/or Academia.Edu accounts.
  7. Post it to relevant Groups/Communities that you belong to on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social networks.
  8. Write about it or mention it on your own blog (and email me so I can give you props here).
  9. Post it on any other online forum that hasn't yet been mentioned but you are now thinking in your head, "Gee, I wonder if I should post it here."
  10. Take the following message and email it to your colleagues, instructors, or students (past and present).
Greetings,

A colleague/friend/acquaintance/stranger of mine is exploring interaction between college faculty and students via social media.  If you are a faculty member that uses social media with your students OR if you are a student who has used social media to interact with one or more faculty, would you mind filling out this brief (10 questions) survey?  http://goo.gl/Y4q9n

If you'd like to know more about the project, you can check it the description here.  http://goo.gl/LOv3G.

Thanks
Me

I appreciate all of your efforts and help thus far.  Seeing that people have filled out this survey from all over the world is pretty cool and the comments are absolutely fascinating.  As I move forward, I will be using this blog as a central place to share the data and results.  Be sure to subscribe to the site (upper right hand corner) by email or RSS feed to keep abreast of the future results.



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1 Month: 33 Books Accomplished

So by about the 15th of January, I put myself to the task of reading a book for every day of the month.  Interestingly enough, I achieved reading 33 books for the month of January.  I wouldn't say that I was inspired, but I was certainly curious after reading different posts about people who managed to read 365 books in a year.  I don't know that I'll be able to keep this up for the rest of the year (especially as classes have now started), but it was a fun and enjoyable experience to devour so many books.

Of course, many will challenge my concept of "reading" given what follows, especially when they realize that of the 33 titles, only 4 are traditionally books that were traditionally "read".    13 "books" were graphic novels which my friend reassures me do not count.  Coming in at about 1-2 hours to read, I may be inclined to agree.  Of course, if I switched these out for some young adult fiction, would that count?  Mayhaps.  But even if I made a 4 to 1 ratio of graphic novels to books.  That still might only account for 7 books physically read this month.  The rest were audiobooks.  Unabridged books listened to while driving, doing chores around the house, having breakfast or other meals, while on walks and other such times when my eyes cannot afford to read from a book.  My friend assures me that these do count (for now).  So here is the breakdown (listed in reverse order of being read--just cause).

BOOKS

  1. Teaching Online: A Practical Guide - Ko, Susan
  2. Kindred - Butler, Octavia E.
  3. Frankenstein's Monster: A Novel - O'Keefe, Susan Heyboer
  4. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide - Merriam, Sharan B.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  1. Fables, Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland
  2. Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology
  3. Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Trouble in Mind
  4. Kirby: Genesis! - Captain Victory, Volume 1
  5. Stormwatch, Vol. 1: The Dark Side
  6. Animal Man, Vol. 2: Animal vs. Man
  7. Nightwing, Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes
  8. Aquaman, Vol. 1: The Trench
  9. Justice League International, Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
  10. Green Lantern Corps, Vol. 1: Fearsome
  11. The Boys Volume 12: The Bloody Doors Off (The Boys, #12)
  12. The Unwritten, Vol. 6: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words
  13. Fairest, Vol. 1: Wide Awake

AUDIOBOOKS

  1. How to Thrive in the Digital Age - Chatfield, Tom 
  2. Prince of Chaos (Amber Chronicles, #10) - Zelazny, Roger
  3. Knight of Shadows (Amber Chronicles, #9) - Zelazny, Roger
  4. Sign of Chaos (Amber Chronicles, #8) - Zelazny, Roger
  5. Blood of Amber (Amber Chronicles, #7) - Zelazny, Roger
  6. Trumps of Doom (Amber Chronicles, #6) - Zelazny, Roger
  7. The Courts of Chaos (Amber Chronicles, #5) - Zelazny, Roger
  8. What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World - Mali, Taylor
  9. The Hand of Oberon (Amber Chronicles, #4) - Zelazny, Roger
  10. The Cocktail Waitress - Cain, James M.
  11. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology - Postman, Neil
  12. Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time - Ortiz, Claire Diaz
  13. God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage - Robinson, Gene
  14. Sign of the Unicorn (Amber Chronicles, #3) - Zelazny, Roger
  15. In the Tall Grass - King, Stephen
  16. I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted - Bilton, Nick

So what were my favorites?  You can check out my Goodreads listing for some indications of what I really liked or didn't, but here are a few high water marks of appreciation.

Amber Chronicles series  

I remember encountering the abridged versions of these audiobooks in the 1990s and being interested but highly confused by them.  Now available as unabridged, it was much more enjoyable and made much more sense.  I enjoyed the first five books (surrounding Corwin) much better than the second five books (surrounding Merlin), but they were highly enjoyable.  The first five were narrated by Alessandro Juliani who I enjoyed a lot while the second five were narrated by Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek: TNG fame).  He was equally enjoyable though because I wasn't as enthralled with the books, I didn't enjoy his narrating as much.  It was a series that's been hovering in my periphery for a while and I'm glad I got back to it and finished it.

Frankenstein's Monster: A Novel

 I've read several other Frankenstein adaptations with mixed experience.  I'll say that I really did enjoy this one.  Her juxtaposing of characters and following the life after Victor Frankenstein was well thought out.

The Cocktail Waitress 

by James Cain (of Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Mildred Pierce fame) was quite an interesting listen.  Largely, it feels like a Mildred Pierce meets Double Indemnity.  The noir story told from the (innocent?) femme fatale point of view.

God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage.  

Overall, Robinson systematically shatters the assumptions about religion and homosexuality, creating a substantive and safe place for homosexuals and other nonheteronormative people to find God.  In the end, he does much more to improve respect and interest in religion than a great deal of others writing about religion.

How to Thrive in the Digital Age

This is a great book that provides a range of perspectives on living in the digital age without losing it in the digital age.  He performs a good balance of viewpoints about the benefits and the perils along with great additional resources to follow up with (my nerd moment of the book was listening to the different recommended reading and realizing that I read at least half of the books).

The Boys: Volume 12

 The end of a series that I've been following for years.  Violent and raunchy to no end, it went out like it came in--as bloody and offensive as possible.  I look forward to what new series Garth Ennis will be working on.  It always seems like he and Warren Ellis are in a race to the bottom in terms of how low their standards are and yet, in the end, their storytelling is still highly enjoyable.

That's this month's reads.  I don't think I'll have the same numbers for February, but I'll certainly try!



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