Review: My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture

My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture by Susan D. Blum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This should be required reading for any college-level instructor. Blum's accessible yet complex discussion sheds light on the slippery slope of what academic dishonesty consists of, how and why students are likely to commit it, and the challenges in addressing it. But more than anything, Blum vividly depicts the complexity of college culture that plays a central role in the development of cheating.

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 Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is likely a book that will be exciting to the survivalist in all of us. But rather than a traditional book on how to survive in the wild, Dartnell provides a great guide to understanding our past civilization with all of its amazing breakthroughs by guiding readers through what one would need to recreate the modern world if there were every an end-of-civilization event. Beyond how to find food, Dartnell delves into chemistry, medicine, physics, agriculture, and other sciences and branches of knowledge to capture the most salient ideas needed for recreating the modern 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.

Short Story #391: Ex-Oblivion by H. P. Lovecraft

Title: Ex-Oblivion

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The narrator explains that he is completely bored and disinterested with the common life and has pursued the world of dreams by taking opium to keep him in the fascinating worlds of dream longer and longer.  While exploring, he comes across a barrier--a wall that he cannot cross.  He keeps looking for ways to surpass it but doesn't seem to know how to get into it.  Finally, in a dream city, he stumbles upon the information needed to know how to enter the world beyond the wall, where he believes there is an even richer world of dreams.  The answer lies in taking a strong drug, which upon waking he finds and consumes.  This time, he approaches the gate in the wall and it is open and he steps through.  He enters a pure empty oblivion and feels he has finally come home.


Reflection

A  curious tale by Lovecraft where tragedy or horror appear to not be the end goal but rather moving into a type of nirvana.  I kept expecting the end to come with him finding himself in a demon's pit or something.  There's a surprising serenity of this tale that is rarely seen in his work.

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 #26: Women's "Choice"?

The Wellesley News (04-25-1918) 02

What Is It

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


Why I Find It Interesting

I'm curious with this short piece from the Wellesley Newspaper.  In a patriarchal culture, the final line, "Marry them" might seem to assume that the women would return to their roles as caretakers, but in fact, the real meaning seems to be that men coming back from the war need to be married and homemakers since women are now the ones with the education and jobs.  This is a powerfully subversive message for this time and speaks to the growing shift in views about men and women on the precipice of the 19th Amendment.  Granted, it is offered as a joke, but it offers a lot of promise about shifting attitudes and possibilities for women.  


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: Red Diaper Baby: Three Comic Monologues

Red Diaper Baby: Three Comic Monologues Red Diaper Baby: Three Comic Monologues by Josh Kornbluth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Josh Kornbluth is awesome. If you have not seen Haiku Tunnel yet and are a fan of office comedies, go see it now! This collection of monologues, performed by Kornbluth (I listened to it) is a fun and quirky trip through his childhood and second childhood (or what some might call adulthood).

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: Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities

Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities by Craig Steven Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wilder takes on the historical and economic connections between slavery and many of the founding higher educational institutes in the United States from the 1600s to the 1800s. Within it, he traces the direct and indirect ways that such institutions participated, promoted, and benefited from slavery. It is a dry read at times, but a very telling one indeed. When we have discussions about race and racism and the long-lasting effects, we often look directly to the African American community, but we rarely recognize that beyond the negative effects on this population, it's clear that white institutions such as higher education flourished and became richer as a direct result of participating in slavery in various ways. Wilder paints this in vivid detail leaving no doubt that the Ivy Walls were held together in part with blood from slaves. It's a challenging view to accept and realize just how deeply entrenched slavery was in our society and how the animosity created through it still permeate our society. I'm speaking now in light of the massacre at the historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina--though I have little doubt that by the time you read this--there will be some other more recent and racially-laden event.

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.

Short Story #390: The Thing in the Moonlight by H. P. Lovecraft

Title: The Thing in the Moonlight

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The story introduces Morgan, who is described as someone without much literary skill and challenged with English but the narrator explains that he has written a very strange manuscript in perfect English.  The manuscript tells of a man named Howard Phillips who finds himself trapped in a dream that he cannot escape.  In the dream, he finds himself in a marsh and eventually makes his way to a town that has a trolley cart.  He gets onto the cart when he finally sees two beings in the distance.  As they get closer, he believes they are the conductor and engineer, but one leaps to all fours and begins to chase after him while the other has a disfigured face.  He runs away and keeps running, eventually exhausted.  When he reawakens within the dream, he wanders about and finds himself back in the same place with the figures howling.  It continues to happen and he worries when he will go mad.  The story ends by the narrator saying that he fears ever visiting the address listed in the story to see what would be waiting for him. 

Reflection

Apparently this isn't entirely a Lovecraft story.  It was a letter written to Donald Wandrei about aa dream by Lovecraft but J. Chapman Wiske gave it the framing device (Morgan and the narrator) and published it after his death.  It's a curious tale that reminds me of something along the lines of Nightmare on Elm Street.

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.

The PhD Chronicles: First 2 Courses Completed

Three weeks and we have completed the first two courses of the program.  Granted, we've completed the physical presence aspect, we still have much more to do in the ensuing month.  Many pages still need to be written, but we have made it through the first half of the process: attending and engaging in deep intellectual discussions based upon hundreds of pages of academic work.  Go us!  

At the end of these three weeks, I can only say that I am even more happy about entering this program than I could have imagined.  The faculty were strongly supportive, insightful, and critical throughout our time.  They pushed as often as they held back and let the cohort figure things out.  I am again impressed with the ways in which they help to great a sense of cohesion and progress with everything they do with us.  From the orientation to the check-ins over the few weeks to the regular congratulations to students about making it through.  

The three weeks culminated in a celebration at the end of the three weeks in the Chancellor's Board Room, where we were treated to appetizers, dessert, and wine as a celebration.  The event had two purposes: to recognize the newest cohort (us) and to acknowledge the accomplishments of those who have graduated from the program.  The Chancellor had opening remarks and the Director followed.  It was a powerful way for us to recognize that we were at the start but that there is a finish line that we could cross.  


Cohort Cohesion

Like many others, I don't want to jinx myself, but I feel like I've been drafted to a dream team.  It is fascinating to see how twelve very different professionals from very different walks of life can form such a cohesive group that just a few days out and I find myself missing them already.  I'm surrounded by competent, intelligent, and skillful leaders who show me all sorts of things about leading, learning, and looking.  Coupled with this, they are a friendly and caring group of people that have been supportive throughout the trek.  I greatly appreciate just how much I will learn from them as much as I will from the program.


Nickels & Dimes

During the first week, a member of our cohort came up with a nickname for us: The Nickels & Dime.  Since we are Cohort 2015 and a dime and a nickel make up fifteen, it worked pretty well and has stuck.  With that, the same member also provided these with these great keychains, reminding us that we take a bit of the cohort with us wherever we go. 


A nickel and dime on a key ring.


About that Learning

So it's been 3 weeks.  What have I learned?  I was talking to a colleague about this and it feels like the first three weeks have brought me from the 30,000 feet view and brought me down to the specific details and nuance.  This was done in two capacities:  higher education and me as a agent and practitioner in higher education. 

I've found this invaluable and so powerful.  I've been in higher education as a student, faculty, and professional staff for 17 of the last 18 years.  It's clearly in my blood and yet, I had no full understanding of how it all worked.  If asked, I would have come up with paltry answers but now I understand the dynamic relationships that exist from the student to the federal government and all that is inbetween.  

Equally important, I better understand not only myself as a leader in higher education (regardless of what position I hold), but I also better appreciation the leadership all around me from colleagues to students to administration.  I can better articulate aspects of my identity that inform my approach to leadership and also feel more comfortable with aspects of myself that I feel can be problematic as a leader (and continue to evaluate and re-engage with those elements).  

I don't want to make aggrandizing statements but I do feel that just these two first weeks have been quite powerful in my learning.  I can only imagine what the next few years will bring.


Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a Ph.D. program?  Check them out:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1
  4. Week 1


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 #25: Don't Ask, Don't Tell in World War I

The Wellesley News (04-25-1918)

What Is It

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


Why I Find It Interesting

Given that colleges of the last fifty years have been seen as homes of resistance towards war movements, it's interesting to see this college newspaper advocate towards silence with regards to those who hold pacifist leanings.  The line that sticks out "If a person is, by absolutely sincere conviction, a pacifist, she out to be permitted to remain in college just so long as she is silent and inactive in her belief."  Much like the later Red Scares, McCarthyism, and the Post-9/11 PATRIOT Act seeing the press join in on the silence of freedom of expression is always scary and disheartening within the United States. 

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.

May's Gratitude

We round the corner on five months of acknowledging gratitude and taking the time to give thanks to people.   It continues to be a rewarding experience that grounds me daily in the big and the small things of my life.  This past month, I have taken to my gratitude letters that I have also been doing for several months to a new level.  I'm actually writing them out and mailing them.  Ok, I'm typing them up first and then writing them out (The goal in that is to minimize the number of scribbles and mistakes--which is about 2-3 per card, even when I type it out first).  I do like the process of writing out the gratitude notes, even if I fear that the recipients will not be less able to actually read my words.  I'll risk it.  It also makes me wonder if I should at some point trying handwriting out my daily gratitude (make an actual gratitude journal).  
Word cloud in the shape of the word "LOVE" of things I'm grateful for.

I liked how the word-cloud played out this month with each letter of the word "love" having a significantly large word that resonates well with the project ("grateful" in L, "life" and "friends" in O, "appreciate" in V, and "thankful" in E).  I was curious to see how the word cloud would display as the word "Love" and it seemed to capture the essence of my thoughts perfectly.  

I don't know that I have much more to say in this post.  My brain is not so much running on empty as it is preoccupied with other deeper questions going on right now relating to other life issues (nothing bad--just sorting myself out).  

Previous month's reflections:

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 Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever

The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sepinwall's book reminded me to some degree of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad for You Is Good in that he creates a strong and coherent argument about the amazing complexity of modern television--one that destroys the idea that the television is an idiotbox. In his exploration, Sepinwall shows the depth and power of storytelling provided by some of the best shows of the last 15 years including Oz, Sopranos, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men, and The Shield.

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: Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age

Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doctorow lays out a very good discussion and exploration into the realm of copyright and the problems it presents in the modern age. Doctorow's approach is philosophically interested in that he explains that the systems created by publishers, record producers and others have made it extreme hard for people to actually own things to the degree that they can do anything they want with them. He calls for reform of copyright law, emphasizing that the failure to do so is likely to increase theft and resistance since companies often are limiting the individual's ability to do things with their supposedly own property. All of this has significant implications as we move into a future of driverless cars, embedded wearable tech, and increased automation

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.

Short Story #389: The Doom that Came to Sarnath by H. P. Lovecraft

Title: The Doom that Came to Sarnath

Author:  H. P. Lovecraft

Summary:

Book cover to H. P. Lovecraft: The Complete Collection with Accompanying Facts from Red Skull Publishing
The story explains that Sarnath sits upon a large lake that has no streams or rivers attached to it.  Near Sarnath, there once stood a city called Ib, which was inhabited by strange alien creatures said to have come from the moon worshiped the great water-lizard god, Bokrug.  In the early days of man, men eventually came to the lake and established Sarnath and after some time, feeling hatred for the strange creatures of Ib, they slaughtered them wholesale, dumped their bodies in the lake, and destroyed the city, only keeping a strange statue of Bokgrug.  The night after the assault the statue disappears that the high priest guarding it is found dead, having scratched out "doom" before dying.  Centuries pass and Sarnath becomes a the center of a great empire and trading routes.  On the 1000th anniversary of the sacking of Ib--something celebrated annually--they have a great festival, inviting nobility from all around.  Much time and money is put into this event and many rare foods are prepared for the king's feast, including large fish from the lake.  As the party approaches midnight, the high priests observe a strange mist rising from lake and things descending from the moon to meet the mist along with a strange light.  They quickly flee and then, chaos breaks out as the princess and royalty at the feast flee the palace in complete and utter madness, which scares the rest of the population into fleeing as well out of the city and into night, never to return.  In the palace, the strange creatures of Ib had returned and reclaimed the city.  Long afterward, when men braved to revisit Sarnath, they found that all signs of the great city were completely destroyed and all that was left was  marshlands.  The one remnant that was discovered was the statue of Bokrug, which eventually became the god of worship throughout the lands.  


Reflection

It's not a surprising story--as soon as the slaughter happens and we see "doom" scrawled by the priest, we know that is what is to come, so it's more a matter of time.  It's also an interesting tale by Lovecraft as it contains no actual characters and isn't a first-person narrative.  Instead, the beauty of this story lies in the descriptions.  He pays ample attention to talking about how the city grew, its size, its layout, its habits.  Thus, the city contains most of the attention and detail and it seems that Lovecraft just wants to reader to ponder the idea of vastness of the past and the strange ways civilizations have risen and fallen long before we ever existed.  

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 #24: "Recital of Negro Songs"

The Wellesley News (04-30-1919)

What Is It

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


Why I Find It Interesting

Any time an educational institution that caters to middle and upper-class white people begins to speak of African Americans, it's always worth listening to. Throw in that the article is from the 1910s, a racially-tense period of history (ok, that's not saying much in truth--all of our history in the United States is racially tense), and it's for sure to be curious.  The characterization of the young African-American women who had visited has all sorts of interesting tells.  Their "unusual effect of their harmony" and the "miserable little cabin" certain reveal their judgment.  I'm left wondering how or why did the boys' building burn down.  Was this an accident or something done by others less interested in the education of African American youth?  And overall, as an article about the recital, it's curious how very little focused on the recital itself and more on the conditions of the "miserable" school.

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.

Tales of Running: The Post-Run Run Victory Lap Edition

A screen shot of my timing on my Garmin Connect screen.
For the last few years of running, I have been trying to improve my time on the longer runs.  Particularly, I wanted to hit under two hours for my half-marathon time and four hours (or at one point, just anything better than what I had done) for the marathons.   Last fall, I broke the two-hour mark with my half marathon at the Half-Marathon by the Sea from YuKanRun, coming in at 1:55:08.  It was an exciting day to break the time and realize that the kid who couldn't do one mile in twelve minutes for much of his life, was now averaging 8:45-minute miles for over thirteen miles.  

As accomplished as it felt, the Doubt Demon in my head still continued to tell me it was a fluke.  It was a one-off.  It must have been a mistake.  I'm guessing some of you have had this experience if not this particular anecdote.  So present was this idea that I made it a goal this year to do it again (and maybe somewhere along the line improve upon it, but actually doing it again ranked higher).  

When I showed up for the Fast Half, maintaining was my goal.  Hell, I just wanted to come in under two hours. I didn't even have to match the same time; "Just show me under two hours isn't beyond the realm of possibility" is what I thought to myself.  Well, it wasn't.  I crossed the finish line under two hours and with a new personal record:  1:52:35.  While I can believe I did it, I am still elated by the fact that I did.  For the first time, I came in the top one hundred (94 out of 324 to be specific) and even came in 19th in my age group.  And true, it may not be ranking high on any list, but it's ranking first among mine.  The ranking itself serves more as a sense of how I have improved over the years and less about whether I am winning or losing against others.  

Lance Eaton crossing the finish line.
Elated as I was in the moment, I think felt it most strongly two days after I ran the race.  Typically, the day after, I will make it an easy day.  I may do some physical activities (e.g. walking), but I avoid running and let me body rest.  By the second day, I am usually looking to dawn the Vibrams.  However, that's also the day in which the soreness peaks.  I hobbled around the day feeling the tightness and sore muscles moan with each step and fully cry out when I tried to descend a staircase (this is the of the post-run soreness; I cling tightly to all handrails on staircases in the aftermath of a hard run).  

I got suited up and ready to take my run, which was a battle in itself.  I knew a light run would do me well, but another part of me (those aching muscles), begged to take another day off, to bask in my victory a bit more and be sure not to push myself into injury.  I pushed on and got ready.  I got to where I usually start my runs, activated the GPS watch, and hit play on the music.  I lurched forward and my muscles cried in a mixture of pleasure and pain.  Pleasure at the familiar cadence and movement, pain at the familiar cadence and movement.  These were going to be some slow miles and that was ok.  I wasn't looking for speed, just mileage and to stretch out the legs a bit.

However, around the one third-mile mark (basically a few minutes in), it happened.  I wouldn't find my speed for this run, but I would find my pace and my peace.  At this mark, I felt the gears shift within me and my body recognize what it was doing; it stopped fighting me and starting working with me.  The muscle ache dissolved and I moved smoothly along. 

Lance Eaton with his finisher medal.
Muscle memory is a funny thing.  I can't say that I entirely understand it or know whether it is a real thing.  But I know in that moment, by body recognized what it was doing and let go.  It also triggered the memory of running the race two days previously.  It brought me to the hard and constant push I pursued for nearly two hours.  It reminded me of the determination, the excitement, and the sense of accomplishment I felt two days prior.  None of this is to say that I found my groove and sprinted off.  Rather, the run was a nod to and appreciation of the distance traveled two days earlier. 

The lifting of soreness, no doubt a chemical reaction of some sort, also felt like my body thanking the mind for trusting it, pushing it, and loving it.  My body moved along smoothly after that; each step came easily.  It wouldn't be a long run, just a run long enough to work the body a little bit without further harm.  But like so many other runs, my body had given way from resisting to embracing, from dreading to loving. 

In this way, the run was a victory lap of several sorts.  A run to celebrate the recent personal victory but also a run to celebrate the overall victory of becoming and continuing to consciously choose to be a runner.  A run to say that I can do this and I can keep doing this and will keep doing this.  



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

Review: A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today by Kate Bornstein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us but was a little hesitant to pick up A Queer and Pleasant Danger--where can one really go after providing such a fascinating look and exploration of sex, gender, and sexuality. Wow--Bornstein sends readers in some awesome directions in this memoir that leaves you in stitches with some of the more zany events in her life.

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: Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World

Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World by Dan Pallotta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pallotta's book is essential for anyone working in the nonprofit sector. He turns long-held beliefs and prejudices about how nonprofits should function and turns them on their heads. For a sneak preview, definitely check out his Ted Talk on charity work. Essentially, he explores issues the dreaded term, "overhead" and why there is a framing battle that nonprofits are losing (emphasizing that by using the term "nonprofit" and the ways that is understood). Pallotta points out that we lock nonprofits into situations in which they become limited to scale and make the impact that we hope they want to. However, Pallotta also shows a variety of ways that the system can be fixed.

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 #23: Examining Herzberg’s theory: Improving job satisfaction among non-academic employees at a university

Citation:  Smerek, R., & Peterson, M. (2007). Examining Herzberg’s theory: Improving job satisfaction among non-academic employees at a university. Research in Higher Education, 48 (2), 229-250.

Summary:  Understanding and designing to optimize human capacity in higher education is a challenging obstacle when looking toward operational staff at a given university.  Herzberg’s duality their offers interesting insights but has yet to be actually proven sufficiently in general and less so within higher education.  Given the limited resources available in higher education, administrators must find ways of increasing job satisfaction to avoid the financial and human-resource loss of productive employees.

Word cloud of article summary
This study studies the how Herzberg’s duality theory of motivators and hygiene might be useful to understanding and applicable to job satisfaction in higher education among business operational staff at a large public university.  In particular, the authors seek to explore the following considerations:  the influence of personal and job characteristics on job satisfaction, the greatest predictors of job satisfaction, and the ability to prove Herzberg’s theory in a higher education context.

This study consisted of a (mostly) online survey of 109 Likert-scale-like questions to 36 units under an executive vice president at a large, public research university with 2180 (79%) business operational employees responding.  

The authors revealed some general results about the survey including women were more satisfied than men in this area of higher education, while minorities reported less job satisfaction and older employees were better adjusted to their jobs and received more intrinsic value from their work.  Some positions and groups reported less satisfaction than others such as people facilities and operations and in particular, those in unions, who averaged lower positive responses in all 13 work environment dimensions explored in the survey (though salary had the smallest margin of difference).   The authors conclude that work environment factors prove more predictable to job satisfaction than personal characteristics with the work itself holding the most predictive power.  

Practical implications for this study include a need for administrators to focus on improving the work itself and a need to improve management through further development of communication, management, and decision-making skills with training.  This research’s theoretical implications highlight that Herzberg’s theory still proves not entirely perfect for applying to higher education and that being mindful of research design and methodology because it effects the research results in ways that seem to reinforce the researchers’ ideas rather than help distil accurate answers.  As Marshal McLuhan may have put it, “the methodology is the message.”

Keywords:  job satisfaction, quality of worklife, work climate, administrative staff, Herzberg, dual theory, motivation, motivators and hygiene  




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 #388: The Shambler from the Stars by Robert Bloch

Title: The Shambler from the Stars

Author:  Robert Bloch

Summary:

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Book Cover
The narrator explains that he was a desire to be a writer and had committed himself to the task.  His focus is weird fiction and he had not had much luck, but some of his work is getting better reception.  This however only wants to make him write something more meaningful and powerful.  Therefore, he sets off to find more meaningful ideas and texts to help him.  In his discussions, he comes across someone who names several books from the occult and this piques his interest.  Despite his friend's warning, he sets out to find some of these texts and though he initially comes up with nothing, he does find one precious text at a bookstore.  He explains the history of this text and how the author, hundreds of years before had written in while in prison and was supposed to have these strange and invisible figures help him do his work.  Upon acquiring the book, he realizes that he does not speak the ancient languages necessary to decipher it and so calls upon another friend who does know the language to help him out.  The friend is initially reluctant after he hears about the history of the author. He advises against it, but the narrator is set on exploring it.  As he opens the book and begins to look, his friend joins him and eventually takes completely over.  He slowly translates different passages and remarks on what he sees.  The friend comes upon a summoning spell and they believe it was what the author used to acquire his invisible friends.  The friend reads the spell aloud and no sooner does he than stranges sounds emerge in the room and soon, the friend is lifted into the air with his body snapped, cracked, and opened.  As the friend bleeds out, the blood does not hit the ground but feeds the invisible thing, which is now becoming visible.  As the creature with suckers on its arms finishes with the friend, it tosses him to the ground and vanishes.  The narrator is struck with fear and departs.  He leaves in total calm but now waits at his home for the monster to come and take his life too.

Reflection

This tale was written by Bloch in dedication to Lovecraft--which is why I've included in here.  Lovecraft wrote The Haunter of the Dark in response to this tale--with each other using a character sketch of the other author as their protagonist.  It was an early work by Bloch (who would go on to write Psycho--yes, that Pyscho), but it's clear here that he definitely can work with psychological horror pretty well.  

Rating:  3 (out of 5 stars)

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 #23: Experiments in Education

The Wellesley News (02-19-1920)


What Is It

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


Why I Find It Interesting

A curious piece in a student newspaper at a women's college.  The first half of the critique of education being conducted by unmarried women implies that it is a bad thing since they average three years and also that this is an intentional mission of education in the United States.  The second made me laugh because yet again, it's an instance of something we hear now, 100 years later about how God is being taken out of schools.  Apparently, we're still waiting for the educational apocalypse.  


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 - May 2016

With the semester ending the first week of the month, it gave me some extra time to enjoy some more books and not be inundated with articles for the program.  This month had several solid reads including ones I'd like to say more about but am unfortunately reviewing elsewhere.

Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News by Jeff Jarvis

I'm an admitted fanboy of Jeff Jarvis.  His previous book, Public Parts, changed my understand about social media in profound ways and has helped me think differently about the Internet as a whole.  Geeks Bearing Gifts follows as the ideological extension of Public Parts in that Jarvis lays out the challenges and the struggles of news media and how they should pivot towards newer strategies for considering what news is, how to deliver it, and how to maintain its legitimacy.  He certainly offers many nuggets of wisdom on how news can and should improve while also providing some provocative thoughts on how news media fails and will continue to do so unless we reinvent what it means.  People are likely to resist his message but in the face of a failed media landscape, they don't seem to offer other viable options.

Word cloud of this blog post.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks

It's a cliche to say that everyone should read a book.  But I do feel like I'm coming to the game late in reading this book as an educator.  I've always heard of hooks and her work with teaching and intersectionality but did not take the time to read her work.  I'm quite glad that has changed and Teaching to Transgress is a great book that makes me think so much about my presence, my position, and my interaction in the classroom.  Essentially, hooks gets the reader thinking about the nuance of student/faculty relations especially as it is constructed through social constructs such as race and gender.  Some of the essays in this collection on face value seem removed from thinking about teaching, but in hindsight, it all fits together as hooks brings together her work as a writer, scholar, and educator along with her experiences as a student, an African-American, and a woman.

Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee Bolman

No  surprise that I'm looking at another book on higher education, being in the program, right?  Bolman's work does a good job of highlighting the many different challenges to leading in higher education with accessible prose and good examples or anecdotes to illustrate his his points.  He succeeds that problematizing the role of leadership in higher education and the many different ways there are to fail.  What is provided is not a fool-proof guide, but a general map that shows readers where they are likely to fail and how best to recover.  Additionally, a strong value that Bolman addresses that many other texts leave out is how to lead upward.  Many texts focus solely on leadership from the top of the hierarchy but he spends a reasonable amount of time, guiding people moving upward.  


Monthly reads for 2016 (and you can always look at all of my books that I've read on GoodReads)

BOOKS


  • Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks
  • Dirty Hands by Jean-Paul Sartre


AUDIOBOOKS


  • Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky
  • Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News by Jeff Jarvis
  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
  • There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow by Jeff Selingo
  • Son of the Black Sword (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, #1) by Larry Correia
  • Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee Bolman
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong


GRAPHIC NOVELS


  • The Lagoon Lilli CarrĂ©
  • Blizzards of Tweed by Glen Baxter
  • Atlas by Glen Baxter
  • Never Flirt with Puppy Killers: And Other Better Book Titles by Dan Wilbur
  • Star Wars: Vader Down by Jason Aaron
  • Star Wars: Lando by Charles Soule
  • Birthright, Vol. 3 by Joshua Williamson
  • Descender, Vol 2: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire
  • Poor Sailor by Sammy Harkham



What about you reader?  What book recommendations do you have for me?

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

The PhD Chronicles: #4: Week 1

Here I am at the end of the first week of the doctoral program and I think the only word I have for this is WOW.  And that's a totally good "wow."  It has exceeded my expectations in many positive ways and it better than I had previously imagined.

I awoke this morning with only what I could described as the first-week grad school hangover.  We're going strong Monday through Thursday from 9am to 4pm.   I had decided previously that for me to function at my best, it would mean getting to the campus by 6am (to avoid traffic, do work, and hopefully workout) and leaving around 7pm (to avoid traffic, do work, and catch up on things).  I stuck to it as well which was great.  But this morning, I felt like I was in a bit of a fog and it took me quite a while to get past it (coffee, of course, always helped).

My observations for this week fit into three clear themes.


Intensity


These three weeks are clearly meant to be intensive and all of us have felt and expressed it during this first week.  The reading, the writing, the dialogue, and the reflection pieces send me in all sorts of directions of thought.  I'm being stimulated with what my cohort members and faculty have to offer and it's all very exciting but intense.  A cohort member described it as a sprint, which it is, but it's a sprint within a marathon and thus, it's a bit jarring.  But I think that's an asset to the program.  The peak (sidebar:  I had to look up the difference between peak and peek because my brain just wasn't read to deal with parsing the difference) moment of intensity this week were the peer interviews that we did as part of a project on one of the two courses.  These were powerful and emotional for both interviewer and interviewee.  I'm glad they were geared towards the end of the week since it gave us time to get settled in, establish comfort and trust, and figure out what we were doing.  But the process of connecting your deepest reasons for become a graduate student and what you believe will make you successful--when you're being honest with yourself and your interviewer--is an intense experience and one in which I felt both in sharing and having someone share with me that I was close to tears.  I think the intensity of the interview also made it cathartic as well; giving many of us to help externalize the big things in our life that bring us to a doctoral program.


Bird taking flight.

Exposure


This week has exposed me to a lot of things professionally and personally.  I am inspired by the cohort model and its power.  I've heard about its importance but have yet to fully experience it myself.  The different points of view coupled with the more nuanced discussion of what it means to be a practitioner in higher education is fantastic.  So much is discussed and processed in these classrooms that helps me to understand things I either never understood or never had the capacity to ask in my own place of work.  Furthermore, there's much that I may have understood implicitly (barely) that is now made explicit.  I found it fascinating how much of higher education I take for granted without having an inkling of all the moving parts (and it's not like I do now, but I have better understanding of how little I know).  There is also a good contrast between the two courses--one that focuses on leadership skills and being a doctoral student in a cohort model coupled with a course that explores the foundations of higher education.  Though they are different, they inform one another in interesting ways.  

Support

I've heard about doctoral programs as being places of academic aggression and it feels like this program is not that.  Clearly, I could be in the honeymoon phase but I am surprised at how conscious the program is aware and attentive, providing a good deal of support for the students.  The faculty recognized the challenge of the three-week June sessions and are responsive to students' challenges and concerns with that.  They hold us accountable but recognize the impossibility of the task they put before us.  Coupled with this is the cohort support and how beyond just learning from one another, we also commiserate together before, during and after class as well as in the digital realm.  The support from peers who all know the craziness that you are experience and have your back when you haven't completed or understood a particular writing is quite relieving.   

So that's what I've got from my first week.  I don't like to use grand language but it felt amazing and an honor to get to work with such great people and to be able to spend this time in my life exploring such topics.

Also, I performed my second presentation this week, an article review.  Here is the Prezi:



Want to catch up on my previous reflections about being in a PhD program?  Check them out:
  1. Acceptance
  2. Orientation
  3. Day 1

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