Image of the Week #5: Start Christmas Early!

The Wellesley News (11-13-1919)

What Is It

An advertisement from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

We often talk about how Christmas seems so commercialized and how companies regularly try to push back the start of when they can advertise and nudge people to buy for the holidays.  This ad from November 13, 1919 shows that this is almost a century-old practice.  They even offer "Gift Cards."  Clearly, it's ads like these that remind me there is nothing new under the sun.


This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human

Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human by Robert N. Minor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Minor's book is rather complex for the lay reader but extremely profound and useful for everyone as it identifies the elements of "straight culture" that reinforce a variety of expectations, demands, and problems in our culture. He teases out a variety of perceptions about how our culture pushes people towards being "straight." He's careful to distinguish between being heterosexual and being straight, seeing them as quite different. That is, heterosexuality is understood as the desire and attraction to members of the (perceived) opposite sex whereas "straight" is the ways that attraction is expected to be displayed. It's a powerful book that many could glean much from as it comes to how we understand our own and others sexuality.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction

The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction by W J Renehan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Renehan provides a concise and clear discussion of horror and how it works. Drawing upon some of the greatest horror fiction and films as well as some of the best scholarship, he hits upon the major facets of horror. It's certainly a text I would consider for the next time I teach a horror-based course as it's brief but hits the major points that are worth noting about narrative that uses horror. It's a book I would recommend for anyone who doesn't get horror because Renehan breaks down the ideas that have long upheld horror into nice neat chapters.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Article Summary #4: The habitus of digital “strangers” in higher education

Citation: Czerniewicz, L., & Brown, C. (2013). The habitus of digital “strangers” in higher education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(1), 44-53. 

Word cloud of article: The habitus of digital “strangers” in higher education
Summary: This paper reported on phase three of ongoing research on “digital strangers” (college students under 22 lacking computer skills and out-of-school access), acquired through purposeful sampling for surveys and eventually, focus groups. The authors explored student's technological experience and usage through Bourdieu's concept of habitus, a frame that connects one's background with experiences to explicitly shape one's future. Since technology access impacts cultural and social capital, an absence of it, represents an absence of social and cultural capital. The group studied had access to cellphones but were rarely encouraged to view the cellphone as a learning tool. The authors illustrated that both within universities themselves and among students, the computer was given more respect than the phone (it holds symbolic and cultural value), though many functions can be completed on both.  Transference of skills and knowledge about the cellphone were typically not brought to the computer as participants first learned about and continued to use computers. The researchers advocated for institutions to optimize students' comfortability with phones to enhance learning and help students shift their cultural capital of their phones to computers. This report’s focus on transference still did not address the initial lack of access and skills. 

Keywordsdigital strangers, cultural capital, South Africa, transference, computer vs. cellphone, digital capital, habitus, Bourdieu



Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #369: The Book by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:   The Book

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The nameless first-person narrator encounters a book in an abandoned shack in the woods.  He can feel the menacing power of the book and is curious of it.  After he fails to sell it, he begins to explore it.  His first venture into the book changes the ways he sees the world.  He no longer just sees the normal world but other layers of mystery layered upon it.  This strange vision leads him to become more quiet and reserved as he begins to lose sense of where one begins and the other ends.  Later, he tries a ritual wherein he finds himself on an entirely different plane of existence and it is clear that there are dark things about as well as new knowledge to acquire.  In this world, he finds a city that he wishes to approach but as he does he is overcome with fear and awakes back in his room, realizing he has almost traversed into something from which he may not be able to return from. 


Reflection

Though this is known as an incomplete story, it still fits as a very short story.  It gives us enough to understand where it is going and the reader is ever-doubtful that the man will not return to the city in a different world.  It also has all the markings of a Lovecraft tale:  the knowledge-seeker, the book of powerful knowledge, the knowledge of worlds layered upon our own.  

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Image of the Week #4: Drugs--All the Best Candies!

The Wellesley News (11-20-1919)

What Is It

An advertisement from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

Ok, so I just found this advertisement to be hilarious.  It looks like a standard advertisement for your typical pharmacy, but I have to wonder if the placement was intention.  You have "Drugs" follwed by "All the Best Candies" and it makes me think that mayhaps, that was intention.  Even though the pharmacy might be where they regularly get actual candy, it seems that the add is suggest drugs as candy.  If that is true or accurate, then it's curious that this ad was ran in a newspaper for a women's college.  


This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

My Most Recent Reads - Deember, 2015

I crossed the finish line this year with reading 21 books this month and that makes a total of 224 for the year--just 5 less than last year.  I'll call that a win considering everything else I have going on this year.  There were a lot of good reads this month especially after classes were done, I got in a bunch of books.  So here are some of the highlights (and one not-so-great book):

Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado

Benforado explores the criminal justice system from the vantage point of what modern science has shown us about the human nature and contrasts that sharply with a criminal justice system that was formed out at a time when there was very little scientific evidence for its assumptions (the 18th and 19th century).  His ongoing commentary is that 1000 years from now, people will our sense of justice as archaic as we now judge how justice was dealt with 1000 years ago.  Though we have our beliefs that are grounded in "common sense", they are rarely grounded in what scientific evidence has showed us.  Therefore, Benforado moves through each aspect of the criminal justice system from identifying (or mis-identifying) perpetrators to arrest investigations to the courtroom and to the prison system, showing the systematic failures of the who process.  It's an essential reading for anyone looking to learn more about the criminal justice system in the modern United States.

Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us by Claude Steele


If you want to understand the profound effects of stereotype threat, then Steele's book is a great resource.  If you want to understand how pernicious stereotypes are and remain to be, then this would be the book to read.  Steele shows through a variety of work that he and others have down, how when stereotypes are evoked in a person, it can threaten his or her ability to succeed.  That is, it's not just about how others perceive someone, but it is how that someone thinks of himself/herself in relation to a group identity that has a negative stereotype. A person is likely to perform worse when he/she belongs to a group identity that is stigmatized when  that person's group identity have been emphasized.  This has stark implications for education, work, and the culture at large.  Steele provides a variety of different examples of how this happens but also shines a light on ways to circumvent stereotype threat.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

I love Brown's work.  She's captures so much of our internal lives and helps us learn the language to speak about it.  Rising Strong follows along these lines in helping us thinking about our inner lives and feelings and finding powerful ways to externalize them, talk about them, and move through them in the moment and throughout our lives.  She does this both through research and through storytelling--explaining how the work she is doing plays out in her daily life and others.  There are some powerful moments throughout this book, but for me was her exploration of the thought:  "What if everyone is really doing their best?"  This question and where it leads her (as well as myself) is something that we should always be asking.  

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle

I'm not a fan of Turkle.  I've read her previous book and seen her TED Talks.  I find she comes to egregious conclusions about how people interact with scant evidence.  In this book, she argues that people are growing incapable of talking or having sophisticated conversations and that it's largely our digital technology that is creating this rift.  There are several issues that I have with this book.  The first is that it is clearly focused on upper-middle and upper-class people--the schools and colleges she focuses on are largely elite schools.  I find this problematic because it doesn't actually reflect society as a whole and how different groups are engaging in meaning-making through their digital devices.  I also dislike how she draws conclusions about how and what interactions mean from people, rather than allowing them to decide what it means.  She often seems to be the sole authority of experience rather than allowing others to define their experience.  Finally, to accept her book blindly, you would believe that youth and adults are incapable of having deep and complex conversations and that this is a wide-sweeping epidemic.  Yet, anyone who sits in a coffee shop or restaurant and listens to the conversations going on around them, they are likely to find this to be entirely false.  I spent most of the book frustrated with long meanderings with little substance.  


Here's my ongoing list of books read this year on GoodReads.  Also, here 2015's reading reflections thus far:

BOOKS

  • 35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say That Widen The Diversity Gap by Maura Cullen
  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
  • Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado
  • Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard Nisbett
  • Search: How the Data Explosion Makes Us Smarter by Stefan Weitz
  • Scientific Secrets for Self-Control by Nathan Dewall
  • Rising Strong by Brené Brown
  • Cabal by Clive Barker
  • Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us by Claude Steele

GRAPHIC NOVELS

  • Alex + Ada, Vol. 3 by Jonathan Luna
  • Angel & Faith: United (Season 10, #11-15) by Victor Gischler
  • Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid
  • Star Wars: Kanan, Vol. 1: The Last Padawan by Greg Weisman
  • Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder by Mark Waid
  • The Hero Volume 1 by David Rubin
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader by Kieron Gillen
  • Monster: Perfect Edition, Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa
  • Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire
  • Genius, Vol. 1 by Mark Bernardin
  • Chrononauts by Mark Millar


So what did you read this year that you found interesting or recommendation-worthy?



Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mayer-Schönberger offers an interesting look at what the world can look like with the increasing use of big-data t reveal correlations and connections of access. There is certainly much to be concerned about as he points out in using big data to identify correlations over causations, but there is much to gained and it will be a tightly-walked line (if done right). The book helps to better explain what is meant by "big data" and the myriad ways it can be used (or has been used) to improve the world.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up

iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up by Janell Hofmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a big skeptic of books about technology and social media that work from any vantage point that implies they are irrelevant, detrimental, or outright harmful. That is, many works are written from a fear-based approach that denies youth's agency and often overplays supposed innocence. Hofmann doesn't do this and that is refreshing. Her guide addresses a variety of concerns around how to raise healthy children with regards to technology but the center of approach is dialogue, choice, and responsibility. It's clear she advocates (and does so in her own family) for a clear structure and coming together about how technology is best used. Equally important, she calls out much of the BS that other guides or parents seem to forget. She's truthful and at times, says things like if cellphones were available when she was a teenager, she too would succumb to the selfie crazy. That is, it is not a representation of the downfall of society but just a byproduct of teenage life. Her genuiness makes her book much stronger than many of the other preachy tomes out there. If you're working with youth or are a parent (or will be a parent), this is the book to get to help you and your family navigate tricky waters.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Article Summary #3: Technological Disintermediation in Design and Higher Education

Citation: Cesarini, P., & Guidera, S. (2011). Technological Disintermediation in Design and Higher Education. International Journal Of Technology, Knowledge & Society, 7(3), 51-64.

Word cloud of the article: Technological Disintermediation in Design and Higher Education
Summary: This essay explored how disintermediation, the removal of gatekeepers and processes, occurs higher education. The authors identified industries affected by digital disintermediation including newspapers, video renting, and video games. Disintermediation has also affected law, architecture, and engineering professions through increasingly sophisticated technologies and economies of scale.  Higher education is subject to disintermediation, particularly with for-profit institutions, learning management systems, and textbook publishers.  The significant cost reduction represented by the for-profit Straighterline ($999 for a year of education) makes even the cost of community college look exorbitant. The authors identified the benefits of Straighterline (start classes anytime, lower costs, access course anytime), and its limitations (questionable quality, inconsistent accreditation, problems of transfer, poor services outside the course content).  They also mentioned pre-made courses from textbook publishers and learning management systems, along with their potential integration into colleges or becoming their own learning institutes.  The article identifies how reintermediation—when an industry reintroduces intermediates—would happen in higher education. Their four recommendations were holistically introduced and use the technologies that are being use to bypass higher education, more strongly implement a hybrid format, utilize the economics of scale to increase access and affordability, and recommit to higher education as creators of knowledge and not places to acquire it.

Keywordsonline courses, disintermediation, reintermediation, for-profit education, economics of scale, course production



Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #368: In the Vault by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:   In the Vault

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The narrator, a doctor, tells the reader about a former undertaker named Birch.  Birch wasn't so much as evil as he was a bit mean and uncaring when it came to his job as an undertaker.  One spring day--it happened to be "Good Friday," when Birch was starting to bury the bodies from the winter, he found himself locked in the vault with eight dead bodies in coffins that he had made.  Most of the coffins were shabbily made except for one for a man named Matthew who was nice to Birch.  In fact, Birch had first put Matthew into a shabby small one but then decided to remake one for the good man.  However, he still used the shabby one to put in Asaph Sawyer, a mean and vengeful man.  Unable to open the vault, he scavenges for tools and decides the only way to get out is a small space above the entrance that he will need to chip away at with a hammer and chisel.  He aligns the caskets so they can get him close to the top and works much of the evening away.  Just as he is finishing and about to escape, something clutches tight to his ankles and digs into them.  Birch fights for his life and eventually gets out of the vault.  He crawls away and eventually finds himself at Doctor Davis.  Davis goes over his story and decides to visit the vault. After looking at the scene, he is appalled and comes back to Birch.  He curses Birch for not admitting that Birch had sawed off the ankles of Sawyer in order to fit him into the coffin to which Matthew was supposed to go and that Sawyer must have returned from the dead to exact revenge. 


Reflection

It was clear that the story would entail a returning to life by the dead given Birch's occupation and the hints at the beginning.  The real shocker was that Birch had mutilated Sawyer's body to get him to fit.  In truth, it seems in line with his character given what else we see about the undertaker but Lovecraft sneaks this one by us until the end.  Beyond that, the story does have a comedic element that the narrator notes from the beginning and overall, as a horror story, doesn't have much zing when compared to other Lovecraftian tales.

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Image of the Week #3: A College Education

The Wellesley News (11-21-1918)

What Is It

A rhyme from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

So this rhyme was published in the section of the Wellesley News called the "Parliament of Fools"--which is where they often ran jokes, rhymes, and even cartoons.  I found this rhyme amusing in that it seems that some things never change. I'm asusming that "parade" is a reference to partying of some sort or just being seen in public (e.g. parading about town"?).    We often hear students lament or claim the same thing about college--they learned very little except how to party.  So it's clearly something that has been heralded for many generations, which in some ways, makes me feel less worried or concerned about it as an issue as I might otherwise be.  

This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

My Favorite Photos of 2015's 365 Project

So I took a couple hundred photos this year.  Some of them were silly, some were gorgeous, some were weird, and some were irrelevant.  But they all were fun to take and to contemplate.  I know I didn't make it the full 365 photo reflections this year and I had to shift to just loading up posts as I could rather than restricting myself to a photo taken in that given day.  Such is what happens when you are engrossed in so many different projects.  Things change and I'm ok with that!

But in looking over the last year, I'm happy that I got to take all of the photos that I have and I'm particularly happy with the lot in this collection.  You can certainly see all of the selections by going over to Flickr or you can scroll through the individual blog posts here.

But enjoy them here and please let me know which photos were your favorite!


Favorite Photos of the 365 Photo Project




Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis

Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis by Daniel W. Webster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hand in hand with the above book is this book which was also born out of the Sandy Hook massacre. While Lysiak's book puts a face to the events and challenges around mass shootings, Webster's collection of essays by different authors approach the mass shootings from any analytical vantage point, using research and existing evidence around gun violence to determine ways and opportunities of reducing it. It offers many different approaches, none of which are monumental or unachievable and many of which do not necessarily challenge most people's thoughts around legality and appropriate level of response.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture

Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Big surprise--I enjoyed a book about comics. Who saw that coming? Maslon's discussion and history of comics is pretty decent and filled with quotes from many of the different key players in comics. If you get the audiobook, some of those quotes are actually taken from the people who said them and it's not just a narrator. This book was released in tandem with the PBS documentary that came out last year or so. It's a solid history of superhero comics that covers the major points and even some that you didn't realized were particularly significant. For anyone looking to wrap his or her head around the history, Maslon's book is a good text to start with.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Article Summary #2: Digital Human Capital: Developing a Framework for Understanding the Economic Impact of Digital Exclusion in Low-Income Communities

CitationBach, A., Shaffer, G., & Wolfson, T. (2013). Digital Human Capital: Developing a Framework for Understanding the Economic Impact of Digital Exclusion in Low-Income Communities. Journal of Information Policy, 3, 247-266.


Wordcloud of the article: Digital Human Capital
Summary: The authors used a Digital Human Capital framework (DHCF) to explore inequality and technology. They viewed DHCF as an extension of the human capital framework, arguing that technology, like education, is an economic input that can produce strong returns if the connection of digital exclusion to other forms of social, political and economic exclusion is made explicit. Given technology’s centrality to modern work, the DHCF sees any digital divide as not just an issue of access but skills and capital that needs to be developed to actually reduce divides. This year-long qualitative research focused on a Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program funded initiative in Philadelphia. They analyzed the different projects within the initiative that moved beyond providing access to empower individuals and communities along social, political, and economic ways. They concluded that effective programs that are likely to address the digital divide will need to tie projects strongly to other forms of inequality. It is not enough to provide access, but for significant change and impact, participants must develop skillsets beyond basic computer skills. The study was limited in that it was mostly a descriptive exploration of DHCF and did not provide significant data on how participants of programs mentioned actually improved beyond the initiative.

 

Keywords:  digital human capital framework, digital inclusion, digital exclusion, broadband, digital access, effective use, Broadband Technology and Opportunities



Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #367: The Temple by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:   The Temple

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
This tale is the final written account of the Lieutenant-Commander of a submarine U-29, Karl Heinrich Graf von Altberg-Ehrenstein lost at sea.  Karl explains that he is writing the document while his boat sits at the bottom of the ocean, entirely dead.  It is during World War I, and the submarine had been sinking boats in the Atlantic.  After one attack, they emerge later to find a man, dead, but clinging to their ship.  The man has an ornament and his eyes are open.  Lieutenant Kienze takes the ornament and they throw the body back into the sea.  However, some of the crew are unsettled by the fact that the dead man's eyes were left opened when he was thrown back.  One even reports seeing the dead man swim after being disposed of.  Over the ensuing days, the crew begins to suffer nightmares and there is increasing insubordination. Between mechanical failures and a failed mutiny, the submarine breaks down and finds itself following along a current and unable to emerge from the water.  At this point, the boat is also followed by a large herd of dolphins too.  As the submarine sinks lower and lower, Kienze becomes increasingly strange too and while approaching some odd elements on the ground of the sea, insists on going out into the ocean.  Karl attempts to dissuade him, but man is clearly mad.  He leaves but Karl can't see what happens to him.  For more days, Karl survives and the submarine eventually finds its way to the bottom of a ravine that reveals itself to be a sunken city. Karl is fascinated by the world that he sees, especially when the submarine finally hits ground outside a mysterious temple.  Slowly, the ship's functions die out and Karl finds himself in utter darkness, yet a soft glow begins to radiate and Karl believes this is madness finally settling in.  He also is increasingly called to the temple outside.  He can no longer resist it and writes this final testament before disappearing into the water.


Reflection

Lovecraft leaves the mystery of the city and what it is to his readers, though in other stories, he provides more intriguing answers or more haunting hints.  It's an epistolatory story and so we are left wondering just what does Karl see when he finally reaches the temple.  It seemed like the story had some nice pieces but they were never entirely sewed well together.  The dead-man who lives, Kienze's ornament and the dolphins all provide snippets of something bigger but nothing you can really grasp.  Also, this story was interesting because Lovecraft is well-established to be racist in his depictions of non-white races.  However, in this tale, he also shows a critique of German identity and racial purity.  The captain regularly praises his own pure German blood and how that grants him a certain degree of superiority, and yet, the story clearly marks him as just as lost and befuddled in the rest, searching for scientific answers and stern discipline for something that does not obey "natural" laws.  None of this is apologetic fo Lovecraft but to raise the question of complexity about his views on race. 

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Image of the Week #2: A Case for Clothing

The Wellesley News (12-04-1919) 01

What Is It

A cartoon from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It Interesting

This image reminded me of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story, "If I Were A Man," wherein the protagonist turns into a man for a short period of time and realizes how the materials of everyday life limit her ability to move through the world.  Within this image, the fact that the woman has been injured by her own shoes because of having to climb steps four times a day is a striking reminder of how something as simple as footwear differences between men and women create a difference of ability.  That shoes are made for display rather than to do what they are intended (protect the foot while walking) is a curious consideration in terms of understanding the real physical limitations women have (and continued) to be subjected to. 


This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creative Commons License, check out the full album on Flickr.

Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The 52 Challenge for 2016

Word Cloud for 2016 52-Challenge
The last three years have been a fantastic adventure in blogging.  Taking up the 365-day project such as photo reflections, short stories, and books has gotten me to write a whole lot more than I ever thought I could for my blog.  I've passed the 1000th blog post mark and I know this forthcoming year I'll add at least another 150 more!  

But this year, is going to be a challenge!  I've got a book to write, I'm full-swing into my PhD project AND I've got all of these goals to work on.  So I'm putting forward a new challenge that I'm not entirely sure I will actually complete, but I feel that I need to continue with this idea of providing myself a yearly focus for this blog, otherwise, it is likely to go the way of the dodo and so many other blogs.  However, I'm not crazy.  Last year, I didn't really make it in full with my 365 Photo Reflections, so I recognize that I do indeed have limitations and parameters that I need to work within.  Yet, I'm a fan of synergy and realize that if I can blog about something that is actually relevant to what I am doing outside the blog, then there is a much stronger chance of me accomplishing my goals.  

During my break this year, I have been hard at work priming up the next year with blog posts.  I have nearly 200 posts and plan to write more in the ensuing year, but even if I don't, these 200 hundred get me pretty far.  And rather than just 1 thing, I'm actually mixing it up and have created a range of interesting things in a given week.  Here's what you can expect in each week:

  • Mondays - Short Story Review
  • Tuesdays - Article Summary
  • Wednesdays - Book Review
  • Thursdays - Book Review
  • Fridays - Open Subject
  • Saturday - Image of the Week


Rather than doing a straight-365 project, this year, I am doing more like a 52-challenge in several areas.  I'm returning to short stories because I really enjoyed that project but can't commit to more than one story a week. this year will mostly be H. P. Lovecraft's work as I'm trying to get through all of his works.  I've also added book reviews for two days a week and most of these will be received from previous books I've mentioned or taken the time to talk about on this site.  I'm not a huge fan of recycled content, but I feel that given the number of new readers I've gotten this year, it might be interesting for people to get exposure to some of my favorite books.  I leave Fridays as "Open Subject" which is when I might toss up different types of updates (my monthly reading update, other publications, etc).  But the two new features are the Image of the Week and the Article Summary.  

See, isn't that exciting?  Probably not.  But I am thinking of using my blog to help me summarize and slowly make sense of the different research that I am doing, both for my classes but also in terms of materials that might be useful for that...gulp...dissertation.   But I think the article summaries will actually be a really great project to pursue.  The goal of the summaries is to make sure I've made sense of the research and feel I can start to make strong connections across the different research I am exposed to.  For readers, it's an opportunity to see where my head is at in any given week and possibly get exposed to interesting research.

As for the Image of the Week, it differs from my 365 Photos project in that it will be one image a week and largely, these images will be taken from older publications and such that I have stumbled across in either my research or elsewhere.  I'll also only do this once a week but will keep the same format of image, description, and reflection on the image.  

So that's my goal for 2016--a good mix of content for my awesome readers who have been sticking with me on this journey for way longer than I probably deserve!  Thanks for making this a lot of fun!

For those of you that have missed my previous projects, you can access them below:


What kind of writing projects are you pursuing this year?  Are you blogging?  Share you link and let me know if you want to do a link exchange!


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Newtown: An American Tragedy

Newtown: An American Tragedy Newtown: An American Tragedy by Matthew Lysiak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lysiak offers an investigative look at the Sandy Hook mass shooting in December 2012. It's a powerful and intriguing book that balances the facts with the emotion. He introduces the reader to all of the major people involved, sharing their history and their potential. He does not sugarcoat things but at the same time, he proves respectful in his descriptions. It is a fascinating look at what unfolded and more importantly, a good look at the complexity of the challenges around mass shootings.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Review: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jurek is now the second book on ultra-marathon running that I've read. Born to Run was the first. Though inspiring and motivating as I train to run a marathon this year and who knows what, next year, I found the book couldn't quite decide if it was a memoir or a how-to guide. There was some great information and tips but Jurek's goal felt a bit diluted. Regardless, it's a must read for runner looking for some extra pep and encouragement.

View all my reviews


Creative Commons License

By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Article Summary #1: Factors Influencing Completion and Noncompletion of Community College Online Courses

Citation:  Aragon, S. R., & Johnson, E. S. (2008). Factors Influencing Completion and Noncompletion of Community College Online Courses. American Journal Of Distance Education, 22(3), 146-158.

Wordcloud of the article, "Factors Influencing Completion and Noncompletion of Community College Online Courses"
Summary:  The authors compared differences in completing online and face-to-face (F2F) courses, including gender, ethnicity (“white” and “nonwhite”), financial aid, online courses previously taken, GPA, academic preparedness, and self-directed preparedness.  Their comparative design examined differences between those who did (189 participants) and did not complete (116 participants) online courses at a Midwestern rural community college.  They followed up with students (65 of the 116 who did not complete), to have students explain why did not complete the course.  These students identified personal issues, time constraints, course design/communication, technology ability, institutional issues, and learning preferences as their reasons.  In analyzing the two sets of students, gender presented a small difference in succeeding in the course (favoring females).  Students who had taken more online courses and those with higher GPAs also showed a small positive correlation. No other significant differences were present.  The authors recommended increased advertisement about online learning, increased student support services, and improved course design.  They also encouraged quality control for courses and access to instructional designers for faculty.  The authors could have contacted the students who completed to better understand what helped them succeed and if they too ran into similar barriers.

Keywords: community college, course completion, online courses, comparative design, learning preferences



Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Goals for 2016--Let's Do This!

Wordcloud of goals for 2016
So I have already covered what I did last year in terms of goals, but what would 2016 be without some clear goals to get me going.  I should mention that I set these goals to give me some direction.  I'm hopefuly I'll meet many of them and usually am ok if I don't.  If nothing else, setting the goals (and doing so publicly) gives me some direction and sense of how I would like to end the year.  I know some of these may seem ambitious and overall, it can seem hard to imagine trying to get them all done, but therein lies the purpose of the goal-setting.  It gives me something specifically to work towards and if I don't, well, there's always next year. 

What do these goals look like?


Giving Thanks

I had tried a gratitude jar a few years ago but did not manage to keep up with it.  This year, I'm going to try something different: a gratitude log.  I've set it up as a nice and clear google form that I can fill out and rather than doing it once a day, I'll do it as it occurs with the hopes of doing it at least once a day.  In addition to logging in my gratitude, I will also look to better express it to others throughout the year.  


Finish the Book

So this needs to happen since there is the contract and everything.  I'm hopefully going to get it in on time (fingers crossed!).  It will also be nice to have this project behind me since there is so much else going on. 


Running Goals

This year, I want to try to get to 1500 miles.  I've crossed the 1250 mile threshold the last year, but I want to kick it up a notch.  Barring any kind of injury, I believe I could make this goal.  I'd need to average about 29 miles per week and I think that is pretty doable.  In additional to the distance, I have three other running goals:  Run under a 40 minute 5-mile; break 1:55 for the half marathon (this may only mean improving by 15 seconds, but I want to make sure my breaking the 2 hour half-marathon wasn't a fluke), and doing 2 marathons and doing reasonably better on them than my last 3 (let's go with breaking 4.5 hours).  


Write more

Beyond the book, I want to write more.  That will include part of my annual project on the blog which I'll post about in a few days, but also try to write a few more creative pieces.  In November, I finished the first short story I've been able to start and finish for probably at least 10 years if not longer.  I want to build up some short stories and do something with them--either look to get them individually published or do an anthology.


Perform more

As some of you know, I had my first go at stand-up comedy and I enjoyed the process and performance.  I want to do more with this.  I've developed new material and feel like I could enjoy performing it at some of the local open-mic nights.  I would ideally like to do this once a month.  


There they are.  I'm sure I'll hit some of them and others I'll miss--it's all part of the journey and I'd rather have goals as it gives me something I value to aim for.  What about you, dear readers?  What are some of your goals for the new year?


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Short Story #366: The Alchemist by H. P. Lovecraft

Title:  The Alchemist

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
Antoine lives in a decrepit castle and is the last of a long line of noblemen.  The castle is utter disrepair and has lived there alone for sixty years since his servant Pierre died when Antoine was thirty.  Antoine was orphaned quite young with his mother dying at childbirth and his father being crushed by a stone falling from the castle when he was thirty-two.  When Antoine is twenty-one, he is given the true history of his line.  All the males died by age thirty-two and this has occurred for some 600 years.  It started when an ancestor of Antoine's killed the local magus, believing the magus had put his child into a caldron for a spell.  When the magus's son, Charles Le Sorcier discovers this, he curses the ancestor's line, preventing any of them from living past thirty-two.  As Antoine approaches thirty-two, he comes to accept his fate while also deciding to seek out the occult and explore the depths of the castle.  While encountering a deeper hall he had never explored before, he comes across an old and nefarious looking man.  The two converse and it becomes apparently that this old man has killed Antoine's relatives throughout the generations.  As the man begins to attack Antoine, he throws this torch at the old man and runs away.  He faints but when he awakens, he finds the old man's body nearly wasted.  Antoine enters into the man's chambers to find all sorts of chemicals and stuff.  He realizes the man is still alive but the man cannot speak clearly.  Antoine is troubled, trying to figure out who he is and the man finally utters with his last breath that he is Charles Le Sorcier. 

Reflection

Once the story began discussing the curse, I began to wonder whether Antoine would end the curse or alter it.  We learn early on that Antoine is 90 years old at the time of writing, so we assume he broke it.  I wondered for a bit if he broke it by not having children but when the old man appeared, I figured it was Charles.  A pretty common horror tale but this was also Lovecraft's first published work, so he still had some time to develop.

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)


Source:  I read this version  of a the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft from Red Skull Publishing (that's their book cover too).  However, you can find all of H. P. Lovecraft's work for free at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


Creative Commons License
By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.