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Showing posts from July, 2016

Image of the Week #31: Abercrombie & Fitch in the 1910s

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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 InterestingThere's not much to say here besides the fact that I didn't realize Abercrombie & Fitch was such an old company.  I assumed it was some company that emerged in the 1980s or something, but apparently it is much older than that.  The fact that they are catering to middle and upper-class white women though is not particularly surprising, given their history of race issues.


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: Intersex

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Intersex by Thea Hillman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hillman's exploration of her own challenges and sense-making as an intersex person is an excellent work for anyone better trying to understand intersex. Filled with memoiric chapters, poetry, and other personal writing, the book crafts a nuanced understanding of the battles one faces when the dominant culture has denied you space and personhood.

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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: Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not To Have Kids

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Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daum edits this collection of sixteen writers as they discuss the topic of being childfree. I've talked before on this blog about my decision to be childfree and other books within this realm. I liked the diversity of takes in Daum's anthology. Some, I really connected with, others I felt were annoying, and some gave me new ways of thinking about being childfree. I appreciate this mix and it does include three males writing on the subject. Again, I would prefer some of these works to be more balanced because in part, I think the male's voice about being childfree is equally useful to be heard and contribute to the conversation. Regardless, I'm happy with the selections as they provide a diverse range of thinking about what it means to be childfree and how people happily live their lives.

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Short Story #395: The Half-wit of Zeenemuende by Josef Nesvadba

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Title: The Half-wit of Zeenemuende Author:  Josef NesvadbaSummary: The story introduces us to Bruno, a boy believed to be a half-wit, but one born to a family that could hire a governess to care for him.  One night, the governess's house is struck by a bomb by the Allied bombers, which was strange because there were no other house struck and the house did not seem particularly strategic but the governess was killed.  A new teacher is hired to work with Bruno and he is told that the boy is excellent with numbers though largely difficult to engage with otherwise.  Shortly into his work, the teacher watches Bruno fighting a gang of younger kids when a nearby butcher throws him into the next yard.  That night the butcher's shop is also bombed.  The teacher was warned that Bruno has his own private study where he likes to go but doesn't like others to visit.  Inevitably, the teacher decides to visit this room. He finds Bruno involved in torturing a small animal and is overall su…

Image of the Week #30: "The Passing of Race Prejudice"

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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 can appreciate the hope and sentiment of this piece, but a hundred years later and several genocides, apartheid, and other such atrocities make me think the author was a bit too generous in how long this process this would take.  It is interesting to see this sentiment so early in the 20th century though:  "The old idea that we must superimpose our Western civilization on the peoples of India and China is fast being defeated." However, it seems to me that the final line, "The power of a great emotion, and that emotion the love of God in Jesus Christ, can alone accomplish the miracle." gives away the game.  First, it calls upon a miracle, rather than people to do the hard work.  Second, by enshrining this goal of defusing racial prejudice (solely focused on the "East"--nevermind internally) in Christianity, it clearly i…

Review: Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male

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Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male by Andrew P. Smiler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Boys don't have to be "boys" but we sure want them to think so. Overall, I appreciate Smiler's effort to delegitimize male culture that emphasizes and trains men to be "Casanovas" (promiscuous and disregardful of women). He hits upon several points that correspond to my own experience while also leading down some roads I had not thought of. There are some places here he comes up short (e.g. he argues that the male as "player" only really began to be celebrated in the 1960s and beyond--but ignores characters like Costello who was a player regularly celebrated within the Abbott and Costello show).

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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: Fables, Vol. 22: Farewell

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Fables, Vol. 22: Farewell by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh Bill Willingham--I know all things must end, but did you have to end Fables. For over a decade, it has been my favorite graphic novel series. Since I first read the firs trade, I have avidly followed the series, including the spin-off series (Jack of Fables, Literals, Fairest, Cinderella,), the book (Pete and Max), and even the crossovers (The Unwritten). You created an amazing universe that was both intimately known and perversely foreign and made me (and so many others) fall in love with your renderings of characters, places, and events. I know I am likely to re-read Fables several times over the span of my life, returning to a series that played with fiction in some many fantastic ways, I could teach a variety of different courses around the series. Thank you for this ending...but also, damn you!

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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-S…

Short Story #394: The Tree by H. P. Lovecraft

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Title: The TreeAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: The story begins with identifying a strange olive tree and tomb that sits upon Mount Maenalus in Arcadia that seems strange.  The effect of this tree and tomb causes many people to avoid the place and rumor tells that it is a regularly visited by Pan.  The narrator then delves into its history.  It started with two sculptors, Kalos and Musides, who were known throughout for their amazing work and enduring friendship. Eventually, the Tyrant of Syracuse enlists both of them to create an inspiring statue for him.  Since the two were not competitive they relied upon one another to inform and shape their work.  However, Musides soon becomes depressed and it is revealed that his depression is because Kalos was ill.  Kalos's illness continues and Musides is continually distracted and tries to give comfort.  As he gets weaker, he requests to be brought to the olive grove to be left alone.  This is disheartening to Musides but he still helps i…

Image of the Week #29: The College Bookstore, 1910s edition

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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 InterestingA student lamenting about the costs of books in the college bookstore?  No way! 100 years later and we are still troubled by the exorbitant prices of the college bookstore.  Again, things change and yet they don't.  Interestingly, the bookstore also ran rental programs which is something else done now, though I'm not even sure they are at half-prices anymore.  It makes me think what will the commentary about bookstores 100 years from now. 


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.

June's Gratitude

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June is a crazy month.  Work is busy and it was that way before I had to take nearly 3 weeks off to do courses for my PhD.  So it can get quite stressful and yet, I maintained my gratitude practice throughout the month, which helped center me at times as the stress ebbed and flowed.  


Taking time each day to acknowledge the big and small elements of my life has proved quite useful as a calming device and to lessen stress.  It helps me to situate the good and marvelous while de-emphasize that which is looming.  It can also turn that which is stressful into something positive.  For instance, I am clearly stressed with reading and course work during June but by pausing and reflecting on it, I am also thankful to be in a doctoral program where I have the opportunity (really, the luxury) to engage in intellectual acrobatics about the nature of higher education.  As my mind comes to that realization, it makes the stress of trying to get everything done for the class a bit less daunting.  

So …

Review: 50 Digital Ideas You Really Need to Know

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50 Digital Ideas You Really Need to Know by Tom Chatfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chatfield's book is a purely distilled text of the major ideas and elements of digital media one would need to know or might want a bit more clarity on. Chatfield lays out clear yet sufficiently complex ideas so that this feels less like a "Just for Dummies" book and more like an adult introduction. This works well because for neophyte and professional alike, there is apt to be plenty to learn (or just better contextualize). Again, one of those texts that should be an essential for any digital native or immigrant.

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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: Between the World and Me

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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this letter from a father to his son, Coates tries to explain the different world of racism that exists today than when he was growing up. It's a complicated but well-worded communication that captures the nuances of the past and the present and what it means to be black in American. Coates draws out the challenges that he faced and how his son must face challenges that echo but are different from his and he wonders just what it means to be a second generation college-educated African American in a country where there is an African American president as well as numerous reports of indiscriminate violence upon blacks by people in positions of power. It is heart-wrenching, eloquent, and powerful--reading is a must for this one!

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

Short Story #393: The Street by H. P. Lovecraft

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Title: The StreetAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: The narrator explains that though we know living things to have souls, there is still some speculation about an inanimate object, but the story that follows is meant to raise that question further.  The narrator explains that there was a street that became the first home of settlers from Europe, where they set up their cabins and rallied to fight the Indians.  The story tells all about its flourishing developments and prospering as the United States became a more prosperous place.  From log-cabins to houses with a paved road and signs of modernity, the street becomes a place to admire  However, slowly new immigrants began to penetrate the street and these people brought with them strange tongues and traditions.  Their presence begins to bring down the value and importance of the street.  Worse, they begin to plot the overthrow of the country and wish to do harm to those who have made the country great.  On the eve of their assault, the …

Image of the Week #28: "The Woman of Today"

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


Why I Find It InterestingI'm curious if the image of the woman on the right is indeed the "The Dress of the Hour for the Woman of To-Day."  If so, I'm curious about what makes it the dress of the hour?  The image on the right is curious because showing a women in a dress ringing a bell invokes the message of the dress of the hour.  She's ringing the hourly bell in her new dress.  However, it also denotes a sense of freedom as her outfit also seems to evoke a revolutionary garb and the most famous bell, the liberty bell, being run.  The image captures both of these ideas while the ad also reports that the dress is "serviceable, practical, smartly tailored"-which hint at a freedom of movement for the modern woman. 

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

My Most Recent Reads - June 2016

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And June flew by in a whirlwind of classes, academic articles, commuting to UMASS Boston because that's what I do in June (catch up in my adventures in PhD land here), and other things going on.  I didn't get any physical books read (unless you combine the numerous articles I read for class), but between commuting, walking and cycling (running is out as I've injured my IT band), I got in a good amount of listening and some really great books to talk about today.  

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle AlexanderAlexander delivers a brutal and systematic accounting of the ways in which US culture has continued to disenfranchise, alienate, and marginalize African Americans in the 20th and 21st century.  Though she starts with the exploration of slave and post-slave society, she traces a variety of policies, practices, and laws within criminal justice on the local, state, and federal level coupled with explorations of public policy, econo…

Review: Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War

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Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War by Byron Reese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's alieving to see a text that celebrates what technology has done and has the potential to do. I don't know if I find the entirety of Reese's writing to be possible as he bypasses and largely ignores the environmental issues that seem to impede our chances of attaining a nearly utopian future, but I applaud his argument in so far as it connected the dots in how technology can reasonable diminish a great deal of harms to human existence.

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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: Redesigning America's Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success

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Redesigning America's Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success by Thomas R. Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to really like this book. There are some points to it that are valuable and think can help improve outcomes at community colleges. In particular, the way it considers choice design and providing clearer pathways for students I think is incredibly useful to consider. However, it flails when it talks about classroom design or even when it tries to accurately discuss the student populations. It says that including the part-time faculty is important and yet makes mention of them on less than eight pages in the entire book; the rest of the time, the authors focus on full-time faculty in their remarks. Most problematic is that it is simply too vague and simple. It defines success as graduation but never provides what is a meaningful completion rate to acquire, which is useful to consider when even the authors note that more than half the students are likely to s…

Short Story #392: The White Ship by H. P. Lovecraft

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Title: The White ShipAuthor:  H. P. LovecraftSummary: The nameless narrator talks about his legacy as a light-house operator and how his grandfather, his father, and he have been operating it over the years.  However, the ships are far and few in his day.  Yet, there is a white ship that regularly crossed the horizon every so often.  He also explains that he is lured to the ocean by its secrets and what it reveals to him.  One night, he sees the white ship and a bearded man on deck invites him upon the ship from afar.  The narrator doesn't take the offer initially, but eventually journeys out to the ship and together they follow a bird to magical and haunting lands until their settle at the Land of Sona-Nyl, a wondrous place where people are content.  But the narrator isn't content and wishes to seek out the land of Cathuria, where the gods live.  He insists on going there and the bearded man warns him increasingly that no one returns from such a place so one can never be sure …

Image of the Week #27: Liberty Bonds

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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 InterestingI'm regularly intrigued by the different strategies used for war bonds.  I remember seeing them a lot when I was reading comics of the 1940s as well as listening to old time radio.  The comic ads were different from the radio ads in how they appealed to the audience, and both of those are different from the liberty bond ads in the Wellesley News, which often make stronger moral appeals based upon the role of females (domestic roles, typically).  In this instance, using guilt and resourcefulness by claiming "You will NEVER be excused or forgiven for wasteful extravagance now.  SAVE and BUY LIBERTY BONDS.  Don't criticize--energize!".  The message also seems to play upon women's purity with the idea that they could be forever tarnished by a "wasteful extravagance."  


This submission is part of the Image of the Week s…

Catching A Classic At the Cabot

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I enjoy films and have had the opportunity to use it in several courses and even teach an adapting fiction into film class over the years.  I've also been a fan of movies and enjoy the experience deeply.  However, I most recently had one of the most magical experiences of watching a film.  

I certainly enjoy watching new films up on the big screen as opposed to at home but I don't got too often because the price is often not worth it and very few movies warrant it.  However, I find myself more and more wanting to watch older films on the big screen.  I get particularly excited when I discover that a local theater is playing a classic movie on their big screen because the opportunity to sit in a darkened theater and experience a film as it was originally conceived to be presented puts me in touch with a past that I will never really know.  

This is particularly true for older black and white film, before an age of television when the films could only be shown on the big screen.  …