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Showing posts from April, 2020

Stranger Days #41: Landing in Slumberland

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Ok, so this is day 3 in a row of being on a "let's explore my library" kick. I can't promise it will be the last but I do hope you're enjoying it.  So we delved into the Mysteries of the Motel on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday, we got into looking at Fransisco De Goya.  Today, we're looking at Winsor McCay! He is a fascinating creator from the early 20th century. He's most well known for his amazing and visually stunning comics, but he also played around with film.  He created one of the earlier (and quite fun to watch animated films, Gertie the Dinosaur - 13:51 minutes).  I knew the second I saw the book that I was going to need to write a post on it and share his work with folks because he's just too good in many ways.  

However, in…

Review: LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

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LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Little doubt remains about the facts of how social media played a role in the 2016 US election, particularly along the lines of how misinformation was purposely created and targetted towards many voters to help sway them. The degree to which this changed an election in which the candidate with over nearly 3 million more votes lost, will continue to be contested for decades. However, Singer and Brookling are more interested in understanding how social media played such a pivotal role in that election, but more importantly, how it has been leveled across the world as a means of misrepresenting reality, recruiting extremists, and control by governments. In this book, they take readers on a global and technological tour of the types of ways social media is used. They cover the overwhelming campaigns by Russia's Internet Research Agency which uses social media savvy, an army of people, and bots to influence…

Stranger Days #40: Getting Dark With Goya

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Ok, so yesterday, I kept things a bit light but under The Mysteries of the Motel book, I found myself looking at Goya.  I first came across Francisco De Goya when visiting an exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art. At least, that's where I think I first encountered his work.  In particular, his etchings and not his paintings. His paintings are interesting but I've always found his sketches to be powerful and provocative for art from the 1700s and early 1800s.  I also was pretty deep into comics at the time (ok, I still am) and appreciated that it was line work rather than painting.  

Goya's etchings are often satirical and mocking of the European world in which he lived.  Yet, his satire is dark and haunting--they sit with the viewer long after one has witn…

Stranger Days #39: The Mysteries of the Motel

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I was perusing my bookshelves the other day and David Macaulay's Motel of the Mysteries came into view and it had me thinking a lot about the world today.  Macaulay's book is a great and quick read that a colleague introduced me to years ago.  My colleague's enthusiasm was so strong for the book that I had to instantly acquire it and read it (and yes, I reviewed it here a while back).

The book's premise is that it was written by a future archaeologist who discovered a motel during an archaeological dig and shares his deep insights about all the different materials he encounters in the motel. It's a basic premise as far as sci-fi goes--the present drastically misunderstanding the past--but Macaulay brings his expertise lens to make a beautiful metap…

Other Publications: My Humanity Is Not Part of Your Manhood

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Estimated Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

So I wrote another piece for The Good Men Project. I had published one a few weeks ago on daily questions I'm asking my friends during the pandemic.  You might have read that since I mentioned it on my Stranger Days series.  But this post didn't really derive from that so I figured I would add it to my list of Other Publications, a category on this blog where I share things I've published elsewhere.  

The piece on The Good Men Project is "My Humanity Is Not Part of Your Manhood: 5 reasons no one can tell you what it means to be a man."  It's the type of piece that they are likely to publish because the GMP is interested in and focused on guiding more positive and sincere forms of masculinity in a society that still idolizes problematic versions of it.  I've enjoyed regularly reading essays from the site as they usually give me new insights to think about regarding my own sense of self and how I interact or understand the …

Stranger Days #38: 1st Day at a New Job

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Estimated Reading Time: minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Well, today's kinda a big day for me. As I mentioned in a post from last week, I left my job at Brandeis University and after a few days off (you know, to relax in the house because I haven't gotten to spend much time here in the last two months--ha!), I start today as Educational Programs Manager at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. And I'm really REALLY excited.  


There's three big reasons for that excitement.

The Center Itself:  I've been reading much about and from the center over the last few years. I've joked that probably a third to half the books I read each year are books that are by authors that come through there (or likely could). Getting to work at a place where the focus of your work is much of what you have been thi…

Stranger Days #37: Puppetainment

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Folks may know that I'm a bit of a fan of puppets. For instance, I wrote this essay for the Brattle about Labyrinth and Dark Crystal.  I also am on the board of the Puppet Showplace Theater, a wonderful puppet theatre in Brookline, MA that has been hosting productions for over 45 years. And I will never stop telling folks that if they want to see the most disturbing puppet film ever, they should watch Meet The Feebles (which I found out--at least at this moment in time is free to watch on Tubi).  

But this weekend, I had the opportunity to watch 2nd Annual BU Research Puppet Slam (Virtual Edition) as a result of Boston University and the Puppet Showplace Theater.  The breakdown of this is the people completing major significant work (masters or dissertation) are p…

Stranger Days #36: Springing

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I'm not sure when I first started to appreciate the return to life that spring represents. As a kid, I knew it happened and there were clear signs such as Daylight Savings, the start of baseball or track season, feeling less cold when walking to school or standing at the bus stop, and the like.  In the woods that I often wandered, I don't think I always took notice of such changes either.  Probably, in part, because I wandered up there so much, the seasons were often indifferent less there was snow.  

I supposed in my teens and twenties, when relevant, it was a season that represented getting the lawn-mower out.  In my late 20s and much of my 30s, it represented the start of the garden. It was sometimes around here that I began to appreciate spring more fully.…

Stranger Days #35: The Busman's Holiday

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I can barely remember what the conversation was but I remember my father one day--sometime in my 20s--asking about what I'm doing on a day off and my response was "Oh I'll probably go to Barnes and Noble and read some books and graphic novels."  His response introduced me to the term "busman's holiday."  For those unfamiliar with the term, it's in reference to a bus driver making use of the bus on his day off, thereby partaking in the thing that he does for work (and for now, we're going to ignore the gendered terminology here, but don't think I'm not unaware of it).  

As I mentioned on my Tuesday post, I am in the gap between when one job ends and another begins. I gave myself 6 days off as the transition period.  Not l…

Stranger Days #34: More Questions

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Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Back earlier on, I started the daily questions as I mentioned here.  Just a daily question I text or message to friends as a means to let them know I'm there, engage with them a bit, and see what conversation comes from it.  A month later (or 735 years in COVID-Time), and it continues to be an enjoyable daily practice that I have found comforting and appreciated that my friends and family put up with it.  

After the first two weeks or so, I started using my own questions, figuring it was fun to see what I could come up with. I shared some of those questions in a previous post as well.  Well, I'm circling back here with that list and even more questions that I've added since so that if you are reading this and are looking for a good place to start with yo…

Review: Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

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Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like other recent books Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics, New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, and Your Happiness was Hacked, Vaidhyanathan takes a critical look at social media, most particularly and damming, Facebook. He pays particular attention to its role in Brexit and the 2016 US elections, but is more systematic in exploring the ways in which Zuckerberg and the entire Facebook team are creating an addictive platform that undermines the democratic values and social good that the organization (and other social media and Silicon Valley companies) often purport, through sophistication manipulation of information presented to users in ways that encourage them to feel more, think less, and orient themselves towards buying. Vaidhyanathan delves into the philosophical underpinnings (and absences) of Zu…

Stranger Days #33: Breathing Through The Pose

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Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Today is day three of a new activity that my partner and I decided to pursue. Readers here (and friends in general) know that I'm a runner and like running.  But I've been trying o do more body work since just running isn't probably ideal. I've been doing some weight exercises with reasonable results (at least in terms of reps and even some muscle development).  But my partner too was looking some type of exercise that she could use because we're both sitting and staring a lot at screens--not ideal for our backs or bodies in general.
She proposed the idea of doing yoga in the morning and since this week, my schedule opened up even more, I decided to start.  But for those familiar with yoga know, there are many different types of yoga and finding …