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Showing posts from September, 2018

Review: Introducing Walter Benjamin

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Introducing Walter Benjamin by Howard Caygill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you're not familiar with the Graphic Guides (also known as Introducing...), then you may be in for a treat. They often take complex people or theory and break it down into meaningful chunks using a mixture of images, quotes, and text. Caygill's treatment of Walter Benjamin was enjoyable if not sometimes a big challenging. Benjamin was a strange mixture of historian, art critic, and wandering scholar. Though for me, I always knew him for his most popular work, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Caygill illustrates (pun intended) how this was a later work to a range of works that focused on sensemaking of artistic endeavors and their relation to the modern world (of the mid-twentieth century), an unstable world of shifting ideologies and the horrors of war. Benjamin lived in Europe throughout the first half of the 20th century and was both Marxist and Jewish, which meant his ex…

Finding the Right Entry Point to Converse About Racism

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So a few months ago, I did my Books for White Folks series and well, there's a boatload of books that I am always recommending on along the lines of exploring race in our society.   Probably too many without any sense of how to dip a toe in the water.

Well, recently, I've become more active in the Watertown Citizens for Black Lives group and have been looking to help out there.  Last week, Watertown had a Faire on the Square, an annual event of local organizations, companies, and community members who have tables and information about what they do and such.  There were rides for kids, a few bands, foods, etc.  It was a fun event and Watertown Citizens for Black Lives had a table and was looking for recommendations on what to put on the table.  

I threw out the idea and eventually volunteered to put together, a recommended reading list.  Now, obviously I had what I put together for the Books for White Folks series, but that was a bit overwhelming (even for me) and so I wanted to …

PhD Chronicles: And Then You Get Your Feedback

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I'm walking out of the diner that my brother, my father, and I went to for breakfast.  We had been talking on a variety of subjects as we usually do.  I happen to look at my phone to see that I have an email from the program chair and I figure it's something to do with social media since that's what I'm working on with them.  I open it to quickly glance at it and see the words QPP.  I quickly close the message.  I'm can't look at it right now.  I say my goodbyes and head to my car.  

I sit in my car and open the email and give it a cursory read, looking for the keywords.  Of course, the email doesn't have the keywords, it just tells me the committee's comments are in the attached document.  So I wait a few moments until it is opened and I can see it on my phone.  Right there in bold, "Revise and Resubmit."  




I read that and frown a bit.  I read through the entire letter with its different feedback and frown.  I read the comments again and find m…

Review: The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World

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The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World by Scott Hartley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hartley's makes a mostly convincing argument that there is increasing value in the pursuit of liberal arts education and that critical insight into human nature that liberal arts help to hone in humans that will be essential as we become a more technological society. In conjunction with various research he provides on the value of a liberal arts degree, he provides innumerable examples of people with liberal arts degrees or background make substantial breakthroughs in the launching of a variety of technological tools and projects. As someone with a liberal arts degree and a value for the pursuit of liberal arts studies in our culture, I appreciated Hartley's arguments. However, one failing of the book that I found and wished he had worked harder for was his over-abundance of examples from students that were at elite or Ivy League colleges and universities. Rarely w…

The Conversation After "Straight White Men"

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Last night, I had the pleasure and privilege (pun intended) of attending Young Jean Lee's Straight White Men at the New Rep Theatre at the Mosesian Center for the Arts.  

About "Straight White Men" The play focuses on four men: three brothers and their father.  It's Christmas and two of the brothers have traveled home to spend time with the father and oldest brother  (Matt) who lives in the home they grew up in.  Over the ensuing days, the two visiting brothers determine that their older brother has abandoned his potential and is wasting away his life in menial tasks such as temp jobs and helping their father who is perfectly capable.  One brother reads Matt's actions as indicative of low self-esteem and in need of therapeutic help while the other brother sees it as Matt rejecting his potential as the defying act of someone who recognizes that straight white male privilege is the system and achievement within that system of straight white men is only a perpetuation…

This Is 39

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So this is two days late.  I meant to do it on my birthday like last year but since I had this 5K this morning, I figured it would be worth seeing if I beat my best time from last year.  Speaking of which, this is the second post that I have done where I use my birthday as a means of measuring what's been going on in the last year.  I updated the numbers here.

Home:  Watertown, MassachusettsRelationship status:  Married (4+ years)Cats Owned:  2 (Bear and Pumpkin)Other Pets:  1 mud turtle (MJ)Degrees earned: 5 (3 masters, 1 bachelor, 1 associate)Degree working on:  Phd in Higher EducationCredits Completed Toward Dissertation: 54 out of 72.Books read in 2018: 158Work:  full-time: Instructional Designer at Brandeis University.  Freelance reviewing audiobooks and graphic novels for Audiofile Magazine and Publishers Weekly.  Occasionally teaching courses at North Shore Community CollegeShort Stories Written:  1Social Media Consulting Gigs:  2Weight:  239 poundsBest time on a 5K: 24:37:0…

Review: A Colony in a Nation

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A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hayes' book highlights a concept that is fundamental to understanding the US culture today and that is the division between law and order. While articulating that law and the protection of the law are important, Hayes divorces "order" from the standard "law and order" to challenge the implications of a society that demand order in the numerous ways that our society does. Hand in hand with this, he connects that argument to the concepts of colony and a nation; those who belong to a nation where law and order are not disruptive but positive parts of people's lives because while the law-part keeps them protected, the order part means they don't have to deal with things they don't want to (loud neighbors, homeless people, anyone that can be claimed to be causing disorder). However, then there is those who live in the colony; typically, marginalized people, though plenty of white people fall into …

Saying Goodbye

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For those not in the know, my dad passed away recently (August 25, 2018).  It was not sudden but it was short.  He went into the hospital on August 6 with issues that revealed themselves to be secondary issues related to cancer.  When the MRIs and CT scans were done, the doctors found his insides lit up with tumors on his lungs, stomach, liver, and possibly his spine.  My dad spoked for nearly 65 years of his 78 years and had rarely gone to the doctors for most of his life, so the cancer surprised no one.  

In his final 18 or so days, we had time to spend with him, talk with him, and help him as his body slowly stopped working.  Though at times uncomfortably, he had little pain throughout that time.  He largely lost consciousness on Friday, August 24 and passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on the afternoon of August 25.   While it is always sad when a loved one leaves, it comforts me greatly to know that the circumstances were such that we had the opportunity to say goodbye, g…