Showing posts from January, 2020

Other Publications: Tricky Interfacing or Tricking Interfaces

Estimated Reading Time: 1.5 minutes

I recently was asked to write an article about "the future of education" (yes, you should hear an echo with that and decided to slightly avoid a straight on answer, because I find such pieced challenging for many reasons.  So I went with something a little different with Tricky Interfacing or Tricking Interfaces: Learning How To Navigate the Robot Gatekeepers.  Also, if you are looking for tips and ideas about your career, the Professional Development Collaborative is a great resource to check out in general.

Here is an excerpt:  

"Anticipating the future of professional education is a fun game. It never fails to provide clues that skills training is going to keep evolving in dramatic ways.

So we might have figured out that by 2020 everyone would have a tablet empowered with a personalized learning environmentto guide people to new knowledge, skills, and of course, income. If not tablets, then it is definitely going to beMassively Open On…

Review: The Geek Feminist Revolution

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hurley presents a formidable discussion about the role of women and her own experiences in writing, in science-fiction, and in the world in general in this collection of essays. Her discussion provides an inside and critical lens to the challenges, frustrations, threats, and dangers of trying to exist in spaces dominated and guarded by men, such as the realm of science fiction writing. She destroys the straw-man arguments about the absence of women in sci-fi while also illustrating the need for a wider range of authors than the traditional white men in order to do what sci-fi does best, imagine new and dynamic worlds that don't just differ from our own but become aspiration guides in ways that open up opportunity and possibility. In breaking up the book into three sections, she focuses on how she became and succeeded as a writer (the goal for writers is persistence), then she pivots to provide critiques of scienc…

Owning Mistakes

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am unlikely going to get it right (even in this post).  I'll come close at times but this kind of work must come with a recognition that if I'm open-minded and reflective, coupled with being decisive and willing to try to use my privilege daily to advocate, promote, and protect marginalized voices, I will hopefully do less harm than good.  I think that's a realistic goal and one that I'm ok with--even though I would like it to be more than that.  

This acceptance is about recognizing that we work within systems of oppression that privilege certain people over others and individually, none of our individual work is likely to restructure the system.  As someone who is a benefactor of this oppression with various markings of privilege (white, male, middle class, perceived as heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, cisgender, etc), it can be a challenge to do right by folks who have been historically and currently marginalized. I've …

Review: Druid's Sword

Druid's Sword by Sara Douglass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So on the one hand, this book drew me in hard. So hard. Having read nearly all of Sara Douglass's other work, this was the last series-related book of hers that I would ever get to read, I approached this book with trepidation. I had read the first in this quadrology (Hades' Daughter) back when it came out in the early 2000s and never came back to the series. I decided to re-read that book and follow on with each of the books in this series about a year ago. I wasn't that impressed with the first but as Douglass usually does, she continues to develop her characters in some ways, while keeping their essence in others, and by this book, I was itching to see how it would end. Kudos for her for sucking me in again. Around the one-third mark, I knew that I would be pacing to finish this and even down to the last few pages, I wasn't entirely sure how it was going to be wrapped up.

In essence, several characters who are…

What Are The Rules For Your Book Collection?

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

Back sometime in 2018, I wrote about how I find the books that I read and what my selection process is like.  I meant to follow it up shortly with another post about how I choose which books to add to my collection because as much as I try not to be materialistic, books are definitely my kryptonite.  Obviously, as a nerd, books hold a special place and I waiver in my belief that it's somehow different from holding dear to shoes, clothes, cooking devices, sports memorabilia, etc.  But I wanted to do more than just that, but explain how I conceive of, organize, and interact with my bookshelves.

While a part of me would love to have a library of every book I've ever read (Goodreads says that would be in the vicinity of 4,250+ books, but I know that list is missing at least 100-200), I also live in a finite space and with a partner who would prefer not to trade in furniture for bookshelves.  A few years ago, I worked to find an acceptable limit that…

Review: I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations

I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In general, this is a heart-warming book by two people trying to do their best to bridge the divides that are so prevalent within our culture, particularly along political lines. It's refreshing and appreciated in that regard and it comes clearly from a place of wanting to recognize the dignity and humanity (or "grace" as they say) of each human. In that regard, wanting to recognize our respective humanity and a willingness to try to understand, I am trying to do so with these authors as well. Because I do appreciate their efforts and their desire, I think they do fall short in some profound ways. Their goals to bridge the divide with at least listening and a recognition of the nuance that permeates nearly all issues we encounter is certainly important. They provide numerous examples of this that help to highlight how we are all…

The PhD Chronicles: The Year That Wasn't

Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

So it's been well over a year since I wrote my last blog post regarding my PhD program.  However, if you've been reading it along, you'll notice that the PhD Chronicles last entry is dated to about seven months ago.  For those not in the know or not paying much attention (I don't blame you there), the entries for the chronicles were posted one year after I actually wrote them.  This gave me some distance and opportunity to revisit and revise in case I misrepresented something or someone. 

But these posts moving forward are in the now (or as Spaceballs says "now now").  So what has been going on with my doctoral work in the year and a half since I posted that last post.  I would love to report back now and regal you with adventures about how I have made huge strides and succeeded in defending my dissertation proposal and am now working solely on my dissertation.

But that is not the case.  This time away from Friday classes has …

Review: Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder

Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder by Gerry Spence
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a trial defense lawyer with decades of experience and involvement in a good deal of high-profile cases over those years, Spence has a keen eye and mind for discussing how the structure of law and power can work to systematically disenfranchise most citizens. That is the major theme throughout the book that no matter the case, the government power is exponentially greater than any human that it puts in its crosshairs. Over a discussion of a handful of his most poignant cases, Spence illustrates the ways in which government in forms of the attorneys, judges, attorney generals, and police agents at all levels of government can abuse their power on people without the means to fight back (save for, of course, Spence and his self-reported amazing lawyerly skills). At that level, the book has a very solid foot to stand on and can present extremely important arguments about the evaporation of (o…

Exploring #Cancelling & #CancelCulture

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A good friend whom I trade insightful YouTube channels and videos with texted me, "Natalie's new video was so good, I became a patron."  That's an impressive endorsement.  So, as soon as I had some opportunity for screentime, I held back my desire to continue watching the latest season of The Magicians (Harry Potter for adults...sorta) on Netflix and fought my urge to watch the new season on Amazon of The Expanse (but seriously, you should all check out that show), to watch this 100-minute extravaganza.

If you haven't encountered Contrapoints yet, you definitely need to go over to YouTube and watch some videos.  Contrapoints is a YouTube Channel run by Natalie Wynn that focuses on breaking down complex elements of our culture into digestible, entertaining, and intriguing pieces. She does this often through character dialogue (herself dressed up as different people of different viewpoints, debating one another).  She layers these vi…

Review: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Range is one of those books that speak to me as someone who has often had trouble delving so deep into something enough to be called a specialist. The crux of his argument is that while the goal to get kids (and adults) on the right track in life, we have overwhelming moved into the realm of trying to raise specialists and not generalists. The result is that we miss out on a lot since inspiration and breakthroughs often arise through seeing across different domains of knowledge and making connections, often by way of analogy. Thus, the book is peppered with examples time and again of historical and contemporary people who have done this in fields from astrophysics to biology to professional sports to artistic creation and musical talents. Epstein's work reminds me very much of the adage that when all you have is a hammer, every solution begins to look like a nail. In that regard,I thnk h…