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Showing posts from January, 2016

Image of the Week #5: Start Christmas Early!

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What Is ItAn advertisement from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It InterestingWe 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.


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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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

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…

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

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Title:   The BookAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: 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. 


ReflectionThough this is known as an incomplete sto…

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

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What Is ItAn advertisement from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It InterestingOk, 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.


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

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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 BenforadoBenforado 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", …

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

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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.

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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

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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, sh…

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

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

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…

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

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Title:   In the VaultAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: 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 …

Image of the Week #3: A College Education

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What Is ItA rhyme from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It InterestingSo 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 …

My Favorite Photos of 2015's 365 Project

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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!








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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.



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…

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

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Title:   The TempleAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: 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…

Image of the Week #2: A Case for Clothing

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What Is ItA cartoon from the Wellesley News, the student newspaper of Wellesley College, from the late 1910s. 


Why I Find It InterestingThis 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 un…

The 52 Challenge for 2016

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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…

Review: Newtown: An American Tragedy

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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 …

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

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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 ThanksI 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 …

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

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Title:  The AlchemistAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: 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.  …