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Showing posts from April, 2016

Image of the Week #18: Will You? Won't You?

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


Why I Find It InterestingI don't even know where to begin with this article.  I'm curious to know what "making too free with the sailors--just the edge of immoral conduct or just the road to it" means according to the author.  And exactly how has Hale House "coralled them"?  What kind of "legitimate wholesome form of amusement" do they plan to dispense with on Wednesday night for the ladies?  I enjoy pieces like these that hint at so much but tell you so little.  They can lead one to research the answer or become the cornerstones of interesting stories to be written.

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…

The PhD Chronicles: Acceptance...and acceptance.

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By the time you read this, I'll have been in a PhD program for a year--so my "Acceptance" into a program isn't new by anyone's reckoning.  I'm publishing this a year later as I feel it will be an interesting experience to be reminded of my initial experiences well after they have been formed.  I think also as I begin to reflect on finishing my first year, it will give me some thoughts to see what my initial experience was.  

So, here is my letter of acceptance:



I am glad that I have been accepted into the University of Massachusetts, Boston, PhD in Higher Education program.  I feel like it is the next step in my own development and understanding about higher education.  After all, I have spent 17 of the last 18 years in higher education either as a student, an instructor, or a professional staff member (or some form of up-to all 3 at times).  

However, I found this start a bit bumpy and problematic for a program that is supposed to be about "Higher Educatio…

Review: Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game

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Sweet Tooth, Vol. 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The end of this series (Sweet Tooth) was a bittersweet. It was an enjoyable, quirky, and intriguing story that reminds me why I try to read everything that he contributes to. It's a post-apocalyptic story with an adoptive father and destine-born strange child, but Lemire still manages to make it engaging and curious.

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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: The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand

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The Art of Explanation - Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand by Lee LeFever
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many are familiar with LeFever even if they may not think they are. He is the leader of CommonCraft which produces those great videos about technology "in plain English." This book provides a breakdown of exactly how they manage to create such accessible and easy-to-understand explanations of complicated and interesting topics. It's highly useful in that he provides a good set of tools to help the reader reconsider how one would properly explain things. He shows that we often think we are great at explain but very rarely are we as successful as we like to think we are. I found that it would be quite useful not just for "idea, products and services" but also for teaching.

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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 #17: Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas

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Citation: Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2014). Performance Gaps between Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Differences across Types of Students and Academic Subject Areas. Journal Of Higher Education, 85(5), 633-659.

Summary: This article assessed the performance gap between F2F and online courses along ethnicity, gender, age, study, and academic preparation.  The authors used a dataset of 500,000 online and F2F courses and 40,000 students from Washington State's community college system. The results showed that enrollment patterns vary according to subject area (higher in humanities and social sciences, lower in sciences, math, and engineering).  The performance gap between online and F2F courses according to subject area was also identified, though education, mass communication, and health and physical education were not significant.  The authors revealed a 3% gap in completion and .20 difference in grades of the courses.  All subgroups studied showed negative outcomes in the onlin…

Short Story #382: The Other Gods by H. P. Lovecraft

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Title:  The Other Gods Author:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: The story begins by describing how the gods love to gather on mountain tops but that man has continually chased them away in an attempt to see them.  Finally, they have found the last and highest mountain, Kadath,  far removed so they can gather.  But Barzai the Wise, a prophet of Ulthar has finally determined not only where the gods gather but the best time to approach the mountain to witness the gods.  With the help of Atal, the high priest, they journey forward to the mountain and set to scale mountain.  The climb is treacherous but the elderly Barzai climbs it with energy and excitement.  Atal follows but the distance increasingly lengthens.  As they get above the cloud line, Atal can only hear Barzai and his fervor as he gets closer to the peak.  At one point, the orientation of the mountain changes and it feels almost as if they are no longer scaling up but going down.  It's at this point that Barzai proclaims he is clos…

Image of the Week #17: Prometheus UnPunned

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


Why I Find It InterestingI love me a good pun.  I remember always liking bad jokes but it was the language teacher in sixth grade who introduced me to the word, "pun."  I can't remember his name, but he gave us a potpourri of languages so that we could decide which language we wanted to pursue in 7th and 8th grade.  He took a particular liking/disliking to me since I was (to no one's surprise) a bit of a smart-ass.  After one remark, he made me go home and find out what "pun" means and I've been using it ever sense.  So, present me with a pun, and I'll be your new best friend.  Make that pun a reference to Frankenstein and it's like hitting triple word score on Scrabble (or Words With Friends for you, youngin's).  


This submission is part of the Image of the Week series.  For access to all photos, which are open for reuse under a Creativ…

Reflections from Changing Lives Through Literature

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In my two most recent sessions of Changing Lives Through Literature, I decided to have the participants do a reflection that I often do in my college courses that I teach.  On the last meeting, I asked all the participants to write a letter to themselves.  However, this wasn't a letter to their present self--but to the person they were months prior on our first meeting.  It's an interesting experience to watch participants struggle through this question and think about the ways they have (or haven't) connected with what's gone on in the course.  I also asked them to indicate if they would allow me to share out their letters (anonymously) to show other people their experiences.  While I will share them here in this blog post for others to read and appreciate, my favorite use of them is to show them to the participants in the next group as they get to hear from people at the other end at the very beginning. 
It's a great exercise in coming full circle and feel free t…

Review: Elric of Melniboné

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Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So if you search through my Goodreads books, there is a good amount of fantasy in there but I had never picked up Moorcock's work. I actually liked this one and am tempted to read a few more. It's nothing great or inspiring but it had good progression to it--it didn't linger to long (I'm looking at you, late Robert Jordan). It reminded me a lot (for obvious reasons) of the DragonLance and Forgotten Realms series.

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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: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

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No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the journalist who broke the NSA spying programs by being one of the few voices that Snowden found trustworthy in the news media, Greenwald's account of their encounters, the NSA programs, and the harrassment he has experienced since revealing the traitorous acts of our own country, is a must read. Beyond providing a much better context for the events that occurred, Greenwald provides an articulate and damning critique of contemporary media and it's inability to deliver real news or challenge authority. He raises a great many and interesting points about security, identity, and freedom that we should all be asking ourselves.

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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 #16: The Representation of Minority, Female, and Non-Traditional Stem Majors in the Online Environment at Community Colleges: A Nationally Representative Study

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Citation: Wladis, C., Hachey, A. C., & Conway, K. M. (2015). The Representation of Minority, Female, and Non-Traditional Stem Majors in the Online Environment at Community Colleges: A Nationally Representative Study. Community College Review, 43(1), 89-114.

Summary: By analyzing a 2300 student data-set, this article examined what differences and similarities exist among community college STEM majors who enroll or not in online courses with particularly attention to ethnicity, genders, and student status (traditional vs. nontraditional) and whether there was proportional representation in the online courses.  This analysis was compared to another data-set of 18,400 STEM majors enrolled in four-year programs at public and not-for-profit colleges.  The analysis revealed that Hispanic students were less likely to enroll online courses at a community college than a four -year school while women were more likely to enroll at a community college than a four-year college.  The analyses sho…

Short Story #381: Celephais by H. P. Lovecraft

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Title:  Celephais Author:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: Kuranes unexpectedly finds the lost city of Celephais.  It is a magical city that he once visited in his dreams when he was a child.  As the last aristocrat of a long lineage, he spends much of his life seeking and looking for this city from his dreams.  However, accessing the dream always entails a sequence of events.  He starts at his ancestral home at night and walks through the town, though no one is ever quite sure if people are asleep or dead.  He arrives at a cliff and steps off the cliff, where he floats down and enters a rift that then has him descending the sky into Celephais.  Here, he is cordially greeted and eventually takes a boat ride to meet where the sea meets the sky.  This renewed experience pushes him to try to find a means to return.  He continues to spend his days sleeping and acquires various drugs to induce sleep.  These spells bring him to all sorts of new realms in the world beyond, but never to Celephais.  In…

Image of the Week #16: Knitting in Chapel

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


Why I Find It InterestingThis post had me grinning like the idiot I am.  I'm amused because I think many of us wouldn't think of anything wrong with knitting in public and many of us find it an admirable skill.  However, the author's tone makes the act sound like something only a depraved individual would do.  In fact, I think this reminds me so much of the tone that people have (myself included at one point) with people with cellphones. The self-righteous condemnation of people for not behaving in the way deemed proper has always been a means of class-corralling and apparently is one that isn't going away any time soon.

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…

March's Gratitude

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Each morning when I get up, the first thing I do when I fire up the computer (ok, maybe like the 2nd or 3rd thing once on the computer) is to do my daily gratitude.  It reminds me of Jon Stewart's Daily Moment of Zen--but one that is much more centering and meaningful.  

Each day, it's three acknowledgments.  Some days, I'm moved to do more but at least a minimum of three:

"I am thankful for..."
"I appreciate..."
"I am grateful for..."

Sometimes, I return to things that I truly cherish: loved ones, basic necessities (shelter, food), and health.  Other times, I reflect on what has occurred in the last 24 hours that seem to resonate with me.  Of course, I also try to capture the small pieces of life to be thankful for and the pieces that are so easy to take for granted.  

In doing this daily ritual, it allows me to think about the myriads of ways that I am privileged.  I know that as much of that privilege stems from being a hard worker and ever-dilig…

Review: The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind

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The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind by James Boyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So everyone should read this book that is ever thinking of making anything in any form that they may or may not want credit for (either in accolades or payment). It's a great book for understanding the complexities of the public domain and the ways in which ensuring there is indeed a public commons of works after a reasonable time has passed from its creation (that is, current copyright is ridiculous) ensures a rich and vibrant culture. Additionally, it is a book that practices what it preaches and is indeed available in digital for free on its website.

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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: Spoon River Anthology

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Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had heard about the book and it's overall impact on other literary authors and found the concept fascinating. So I picked up the book at my friend's house and started reading. Well, I ended up having to buy a copy and read it because I was so compelled. I love the idea and it's overall execution. The book is a collection of poems that are written by dead people in the town of Spoon River. Each poem highlights the dead person's life in concrete and abstract ways. Through these poetic sermons, we learn about how the town worked and didn't work. It's a lot of fun but I have to wonder if there is some site out there that provides a map of the characters and how they interconnect. That would be fascinating to look at.

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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 #15: The Online STEM Classroom--Who Succeeds?

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Citation: Wladis, C., Conway, K. M., & Hachey, A. C. (2015). The Online STEM Classroom--Who Succeeds? An Exploration of the Impact of Ethnicity, Gender, and Non-Traditional Student Characteristics in the Community College Context. Community College Review, 43(2), 142-164.

Summary: This study examined a data-set of 3600 students to understand how their performances in online and F2F STEM courses at Northeast Hispanic-serving community college to determine what factors (gender, ethnicity, and non-traditional student characteristics) correlate with the attrition gap.  They particularly targeted online and F2F courses taught by the same instructor to control for course and instructor variance.  The analysis suggested several points about online STEM courses:  men and older students do better than females and younger students, there was no significant correlation between ethnicity and success in online courses, and students exhibited different levels of success among the types of STEM c…

Short Story #380: The Colours Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft

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Title:  The Colours Out of SpaceAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: The narrator is a land surveyor checking out a section outside the city of Arkham that is set to covered in water when the new dam is constructed.  He notes that the area seems to be struck by a blight and that for years, populations have moved in and out of the area.  He discovers there is one person who has lived there for forty years and seeks out the man, though the man is described as odd.  The narrator interviews Ammi and explains that directly following the explanation he returned to work, quit his job and moved away and would recommend that no one ever drink the water from that dam.  He then retells Ammi's tale.  Ammi lived with his wife in the area at time when it was a thriving farmland.  However, one night, a meteorite struck down on the Gardner farm--the closest farm to Ammi, but still a reasonable distance away.  Ammi and many others went to visit the meteorite to learn about it.  The father of the Gardne…

Image of the Week #15: The Wonders of General Electric

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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 InterestingAnother ad from General Electric that seems to offer up a fantastic world of machines to the newly graduated student.  Though why the student is male when the newspaper is published at an all-women college leaves much to be questioned (such as was this an ad to direct women to direct their love interests where to go or work or purchase from?).  But it's curious how much General Electric emphasizes the world is as the feet of those who spend money on its many appliances.

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.