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Showing posts from May, 2019

Review: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America

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Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many people like to talk about the poor and much of that talk comes with "advice, assumptions, and condemnations that are about as useful as they are grounded in a sense of reality for those living within poverty. With wit, eloquence, and a keen sense of making her experience so palpable that readers can feel the exhaustion of life on the edges, she paints a vivid picture of the ceaseless balancing act of having to constantly sacrifice her health, comfort, and energy to acquire something that is only marginally less-worse than what she already has. And because the US social safety net is so precarious, Kafkaesque, and tedious, the ability to meaningfully cope (or rather cope in a way that is actually affordable) is pretty marginal. Therapy would be great but co-pays are such that she's going to sacrifice lunch for a few weeks; yoga could do wonders but studios aren't affordable or local, not …

An OER Tipsheet from the Northeast OER Summit

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I recently had the opportunity to attend and "present" at the Northeast OER Summit.  This is its third year running and the first year that I've been able to attend.  I put in a proposal that got accepted called, "Stealing (Sorry, Borrowing) From One Another: An Ideas and Practices Exchange".  It is exactly what the time indicates, thus my preparation for this was limited in that I made sure to have a bucket of questions to ask but was largely going to listen and collect the ideas.

But in the spirit of open educational resources (OER), I wanted to make sure I shared out for everyone there and for those not in attendance some of the great tips and tricks that were shared by everyone.  So for those interested, you can find the NE OER Summit Roundtable Handout here.  It has a Creative Commons license so you are welcome to borrow and adapt to your liking.  I've also enabled the comments feature so please feel free to contribute additional tips or, where need be …

Review: Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States

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Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this updated edition (just after Trump's election), Bonilla-Silva explores how the blatant racism of yesteryear has been replaced with a racism that is best described as color-blind racism. Color-blind racism is grounded in the idea that if people claim they do not see skin color or to act overtly harsh towards people of color, they are not racists (like white supremacists) and therefore, their actions are motivated by something else (market values, evaluations of self, etc). Bonilla-Silva dumps that ideology on its head and shows exactly how color-blind racism perpetuates racism and white supremacy within the United States. Besides articulating historical and cultural contexts that create this situation, he breaks down two sociological studies that he conducted among white college students and working-class folks to unpack the …

Review: Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley

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Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chang critical look at the misogyny and chauvinism of the tech industry that sits well with books like Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, and Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech, providing another vantage point by which to understand the tech industry. In particular, Chang takes on the often-touted but never-true idea of technology being a place of genuine meritocracy. Instead, she traces from the beginning of computers in the 1960s and 1970s to the present, how a variety of tactics in higher education and the industry itself have led to not only alienating women but being outright hostile and aggressive towards women either as programmers, venture capitalists, critics in the field (e.g. Gamergate), and others in the field. Inste…

Film Essay: The Apartment and the #MeToo Lens

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This is my fourth essay that I've written for the Brattle Theater and like the others, I appreciate the shape that it has taken and the ways I have improved my writing (with hefty help from the editor--thank you, Jessie!) when discussing films. If you want to see those previous ones, then you can check them out:
Disoriented Drives: Intimacy and Distance in Hitchcock's VertigoMonster in the Celluloid Closet: Historical Re-Presentation in Gods and MonstersThis place is weird": Jim Henson's Liminal Films for Children and Adults.In this essay, I take a look at The Apartment (1960) and explore how we make sense of it through a modern lens.  While we often watch and think about films in the context in which they were made, does that mean we should continue to encourage the watching of them and if we do, how much of that critical lens should e frontloaded into the viewing?  These are questions I'm clearly grappling with in this essay and things I found challenging in revi…

Review: The Red Pony

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The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't know that I'm a hardcore Steinbeck fan but I generally do like his work. Of Mice And Men is a favorite and though I've never read it in full, The Grapes of Wrath also has a lot of weight attached to it and I've read several of his short stories. So when I picked up The Red Pony, I had some sense of what to anticipate. The short novel explores the life of Jody, a young boy living on a farm with his family in 1930s (or so) California. He's a mild-mannered boy with a general curiosity about the world around and yet still widely naive about the ways of the world. The book is set up in four chapters that are essentially four episodes over roughly a two-year period. On the farm, Jody has only his mother, two dogs (who continually abandon him for other activities), his often-time distant father, and the farm help, Billy Buck, who Jody looks up to the most. The story begins with Jody being given a (you guessed it…

The PhD Chronicles: The Final Friday

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You can't see me, but I'm dancing up a storm because the final Friday has come and gone for my cohort in the doctoral program and that's just AMAZING AND AWESOME AND ALLEVIATING AND ...and so many other feelings that don't begin with the letter A.

I will not go into detail of every moment of the day but from the moment I got up to taking the bus to arriving on campus, classes, lunch, more classes, and celebratory drinks afterward--I just kept thinking about this being a powerful milestone to hit.  It felt like a great weight lifting off my shoulders...mostly.  I still have the final paper (a rough, rough, rough dissertation proposal) to produce but then I'm taking 2 months off from it all before diving back in. With classes at an end, I need to take a break.  I'm mentally and even physically wiped (the stress cycle has taken its toll on me and my body is in rougher shape than it has been in while).  The timing is also right to take a break as I need some distanc…

Review: Making Sense of the Alt-Right

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Making Sense of the Alt-Right by George Hawley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hawley traces the history and influences on the rise the Alt-Right from the inside perspective rather than the traditional narrative bandied about by most media outlets. In doing so, he provides a nuance that traditional media does not have space for but that nuance is not a defense or apology for the Alt-Right and what they stand for but rather, a deep need to understand what drives people to embrace what many (rightfully) see as a hateful, fear-based, and ignorant agenda. Like any good history, Hawley illustrates the predecessors to the Alt-Right and some of their influences of the 1980s and 1990s--particular white nationals and white supremacist groups (yes, there is a distinction to them; even if to others it is a distinction without difference). From there, he shifts into exploring the pivotal role of the Internet and the thriving communities the arose over the 2000s and 2010s along with the moments of harmony a…