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Showing posts from September, 2010

The College Education: Effort Invested

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Many students approach their college education with a whole range of mixed feelings.  There's the excitement of a new level of learning along with more freedom and socializing.  Others see it as one more roadblock until they can finally "do something" with their lives (though, that do something usually is some variation on the "make money; buy things" scheme.

But the American Enterprise Institute recently published a study revealing that while students may be getting excited about college; they aren't necessarily getting prepared for college.  That is, they may have the right levels of intelligence for college, but they are not scheduling significant time for college.

Since the 1960s, there has been a significant drop in studying and work that students put into their education.  What used to be upwards of 25-30 hours a week of work is now drifting down to 15 hours of work for school.  In fact, many students are amazed/disturbed to discover that for college, …

Author on My Radar: Steven Niles

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Since the demise of E.C. Comics, horror comics in the US have always been something in the background; left untouched, unacknowledged, or held tenuously at arms’ length by the publishers.  Sure there was Eerie, Creepie, Dracula Lives and a slew of others that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s; along with works such as Deadworld and the like (In fact, horror comics can be found throughout comics consistently since the late 1940s as showed by The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics edited by Peter Normanton).  Despite this, when I think about horror comics today; Steven Niles seems to be a major modern voice on the horror-comic landscape.  There are others and in fact, I think it’s hard to divorce him from his regular collaborator, Ben Templesmith (an Author on My Radar for a later date) and Robert Kirkman (yet another one for a later date; I should probably get cracking on these things!).  However, I think Niles as a horror comic writer has helped the genre become more solid, marketable, a…

The Orphan, Or Lessons on How Films Code Our Fears

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Recently, I sat down to watch “The Orphan” and while in many ways it is a movie that is all together forgettable; it did stick in my mind for the next day or two.  Initially, I didn’t know why.  I wasn’t giving it a close viewing and wanted to watch it, if only to have in hovering somewhere in my mental library should I ever need it.  But by the next day, I found myself returning to think about the film and what it seemed to offer up.

Keep in mind, there are lots of spoilers from here on in.

The basic plot of the film is that a family adopts a young sweet-appearing girl from an orphanage who eventually turns out to be evil adult in disguise and attempts to kill everyone that may not bend to her will.  Basic horror fare, no doubt.  But there were particulars that spoke to our cultural anxieties and battlegrounds.  In particular, this film is loaded with meanings that suggest and reinforce the fear, anxiety, and disgust with the place of young girls in our culture.   

The most evident is …

Economies and Superheroes: Or Why Spider-Man Might Be a Socialist

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This entry from Christopher Robichaud at Big Questions Online represents some of the major discussions that academics and others have when considering what superhero narratives have to give us. Spider-Man, like other characters, is prime material for philosophical debate and indeed, colleagues of mine, Rob Weiner and Alec Hosterman have postulated characters such as these exist in a hyper-realistic state.

Robichaud contemplates what is the best choice for Peter Parker to make. Imbued with super-human powers, Parker must decide what will affect the greatest amount of "good" for society: to be Spider-Man or to be himself, student/scientist/dorky boyfriend to Mary Jane. It's a circular conversation the character has had with himself time and again over the years and really, a central element to his character.

For those unfamiliar, Spider-Man is really formed in the center of the moral quandary so many of us face at some point: Use my potential or waste it. Shortly after Park…