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October 31, 2006

Clifford Geertz, 1926-2006

Just heard that Clifford Geertz passed away yesterday. The Institute for Advanced Study has a full rundown of his career.

Noting that human beings are "symbolizing, conceptualizing, meaning-seeking animals," Geertz acknowledged and explored the innate desire of humanity to "make sense out of experience, to give it form and order."

Sound like anyone else we rhetoricians might be familiar with? I certainly don't claim exhaustive knowledge of Geertz's work, but The Interpretation of Cultures was part of my foundational coursework in rhetoric, and we could do worse as a field than to acknowledge that connection more explicitly. From Gary Olson's 1991 interview with Geertz for JAC:

Clifford Geertz says it all in one crisp, succinct sentence: "I'm probably a closet rhetorician, although I'm coming out of the closet a bit." For over three decades, Geertz has been attempting to steer anthropological scholarship away from a rigidly scientific model and toward a humanistic, interpretive, hermeneutic model--apparently with great success. Perhaps it is Geertz's preoccupation with seeing science and scholarship as rhetorical, as socially constructed, that makes his work so eminently appealing to many of us in rhetoric and composition. Geertz sees rhetoric as central to his own life and work.

Take a look at the interview--it's worth it, and not just for those of us engaged in what Geertz first called "thick description."

Update: More links over at Savage Minds

Nouvelle Nouvelle Vague

For the past year or so, I've been recommending to anyone who will listen the first album from Nouvelle Vague, a band from France that renders 80s music into bossa nova. Turns out that there's a new album out now, with covers of, among others, the Cramps, Bauhaus, U2, Blondie, and the Cure.

That'd be me rushing over to the iTunes store.

[via Cool Hunting]

October 30, 2006

"Improved" might be a bit of an exaggeration

It's a bit slow for blogging here in the Brookeosphere. Not that I'm not writing, but most of it is targeted for other things at the moment.

One thing that I did do this weekend was to re-think my "homepage," which is less home nowadays than the blog itself. Some time ago, Spencer ruminated on the need for course websites, and I tend to wonder the same about homepages nowadays. Other than serving as a series of pointers to other content, there's not much that I have to say that a homepage can say for me.

Back in the day, I used to redesign it once a year and during the year, I'd be pretty faithful about upkeep on it. Now, though, I find myself more attuned to the slow and steady accumulation of the weblog, and I resist the all-at-once-ness that a homepage seems to require. Maybe over the next year or so, I'll (a) just install a bump and send people here, and (b) add some navigation for papers, my all-star posts, courses, etc. Because even the minimal upgrade work I did on my "homepage" seems like time better spent elsewhere.

That's all.

October 26, 2006

I will bet you money

In addition to doing a quick skim of the MLA Program in order to circle the panels that might be of interest, it's kind of a fun exercise to go through and see if you can locate the cherries, the papers that will make the cut for the Annual MLA Title Snipe™.

This year's leading candidate, as best as I can tell, comes from panel 81, titled "Academic Fashions." Nothing objectionable in that, particularly, but the fourth presentation in that session carries the relatively simple title, "Is the Rectum a Text?"

The speaker has authored a book on sexual subjectivity, but even so, it's pretty tough to imagine that his title--I'm assuming here that the Snipe™ will not require actual attendance at or to the presentation--will be left alone by those commentators committed to the diagnosis and rectification of the moral decadence amongst us humanities folks.

That is all.

October 24, 2006

MLA 2007

Well, if the presence of my name in my recently arrived program is any indication, I am now official:

Rhetoricizing Technology, Technologizing Rhetoric
Wednesday, December 27, 5:15-6:30, Philadelphia Marriott 411-412
1. The Rhetorical Canons as an Ecology of (New Media) Practice, Collin Gifford Brooke, Syracuse University
2. The Typesetter as the Scapegoat of Industrial Literature, Cary Hollinshead-Strick, University of Pennsylvania
3. Molecular Vision: Analogies of Technology in the Bio-Nano Age, Michelle A. Sidler, Auburn University

I've been referring to this as my first and last talk at MLA--after a couple of unsuccessful attempts in graduate school, I stopped trying to get on the program, and this year, it was kind of a whim. It happened that I was working on the chapter that the talk will come from at the time and, combined with the fact that I had planned on attending MLA anyhow, led me to give it a shot.

One of the things that took me too long to realize, I think, was that it's sure a lot easier to write abstracts for conferences or collections when the abstract is describing work that I've done rather than predicting work that I'll do. Not that I still don't future-tense my work that way sometimes. But MLA is a pretty tough get for comp-rhet folk, and it's probably no coincidence that my abstract was a good one this time around.

I did a light skim of the program tonight, circled a few panels, maybe 10 or 12 out of the 700+. It appears that the magic time (other than the time of my panel, of course) during the conference is the noon panel on Thursday. I have to choose from among a panel on textual materialities with Matt Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, and Peter Stallybrass, a panel on the public sphere which includes Michael Bérubé and Amardeep Singh, and another on Wikis. Nice of them to put them all in the same time slot.

Turns out too that the UberBlogger panel (featuring Bérubé, Bitch PhD, Scott Kaufman, John Holbo, and Scott McLemee) is Saturday morning at 8:30 am. Ugh. Although I suppose it's possible that I'll be worn out enough on Friday to turn in early and get up for it. We'll see.

That's all.

October 22, 2006

Cloud for CCCC Area Cluster 105 - Research

Here's a cloud for the abstracts in Area Cluster 105, which is Research. I did go ahead and redlist the terms that I said I would yesterday...

Tagcloud for Area Cluster 105 (Research)

CCCC Categories and Counts

I'm going to throw this information below the fold, but in the process of messing around with the CCCC Searchable program, I thought I'd go ahead and see how the various categories worked out. Including workshops, there are 54 panels tagged with Area Cluster 106 - Information Technologies, for example. But there are also a bunch of categories gathered under Focus, Interest Emphasis, and Level Emphasis. I've commented before on the Borgesian feel of our proposal system, so I'll restrain myself here. Each of the categories should add up to the same number, but I haven't checked--it's more likely that I made an error than they did, though...

Area Clusters

  • 101 - Practices of Teaching Writing (124 panels)

  • 102 - Composition Programs (74 panels)

  • 103 - Theory (78 panels)

  • 104 - History (48 panels)

  • 105 - Research (39 panels)

  • 106 - Information Technologies (54 panels)

  • 107 - Institutional and Professional (71 panels)

  • 108 - Language (19 panels)

  • 109 - Creative Writing (20 panels)

  • 110 - Professional and Technical Writing (23 panels)

  • 111 - Community, Civic, and Public (47 panels)


  • basic writing (15 panels)

  • cultural studies (57 panels)

  • feminist studies (13 panels)

  • first-year composition (80 panels)

  • two-year college (15 panels)

  • WAC/WID (25 panels)

  • not applicable (435 panels)

Level Emphasis

  • 2-year (18 panels)

  • 4-year (69 panels)

  • graduate (21 panels)

  • all (532 panels)

Interest Emphasis

  • class (14 panels)

  • disability (7 panels)

  • gender (17 panels)

  • race/ethnicity (58 panels)

  • sexuality (4 panels)

  • not applicable (540 panels)

October 21, 2006

Is that a merit badge on your blog?

Growing up, I did the whole Cub Scout thing, all the way through. I have vague recollections of merit badges, racing cars that our dads made for us we made by carving up blocks of wood, camping trips, etc. When it came time to graduate to Boy Scouts, I pretty much bailed. If I recall correctly, meetings were on Wednesdays, during Buck Rogers, and that sealed the deal for me. No Eagle Scout for this kid.

Anyhow, and despite the troubles in recent years for the BSA and CSA, those memories are fond and my attitudes towards such organizations are generally positive. At least, they were, until I learned that "Boy Scouts in the Los Angeles area will now be able to earn an activity patch for learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music." Among other activities,

Go to a movie and stay through all of the credits. Tell your counselor and/or troop leader who you think, in addition to the main actors and actresses, would be hurt if that film were stolen?

The news story is here, but that's an exact quote from the official curriculum for the "Respect Copyrights" merit badge. Said curriculum appears courtesy of the MPAA, of course, and includes their logo at the top of the document.

A document whose link I would be able to share with you had I diligently fulfilled the conditions for the Respect Copyrights merit badge. As it stands, I can only offer you a picture of the merit badge, disrespectfully ripped from the last page of said document.

MPAA buys the Boy Scouts

Feel free to add it to your sidebar. What better way to reward the Cub Scout who must have earned his Clip Art merit badge designing it or the industry flak who wrote the accompanying curriculum?

(And speaking of tagclouds)

Before I happened upon TagCrowd, I threw together a little quick description for Jenny of how one might generate a cloud given a list of terms and frequencies (since that's what we work with for CCCOA).

Fairly simple stuff, I suppose, but if anyone's interested in taking a look, here's a pdf of my tutorial for building a tagcloud by hand. The tagcloud isn't the tricky part so much as getting to the point where you have that list of terms. Once you do, a little size and color scheming, followed by a quick alphabetic sort, is all it takes.

Collin's Clever CCCC Cluster Cloud

Speaking of CCCC, or of the CCCCCCCCC referenced in my title (8 Cs!), Derek and I were yappin tonight about how we might go about indexing the CCCC Program using TagCrowd, a tool I came across via Jill and recommended to Jenny. It overlaps a fair bit with what we're doing over at CCCOA, but one difference is that TagCrowd allows you to upload a file, whereupon it generates a cloud of frequent terms.

So here's what I did:

1. I went to the searchable program for the 2007 CCCC, and searched for all panels under the 106 Area Cluster (Information Technologies).

2. I added each of the 50 or so panels to my "Convention Schedule," and then hit the button to email it to myself. The result is a window with all of the panels & descriptions in a text file. Copy and paste into TextEdit.

3. I stripped out all of the speaker information, including titles. I could have left the titles in, but it would have taken longer (and been a little more debatable in terms of focus).

4. Find/Replace on 2-word phrases (new media, social software, et al.), variants (online and on-line), making them a single word in the case of the former and standardizing in the latter. (I thought, too, about just deleting "speaker," which appears in the prose with some frequency.)

5. TagCrowd the file, and voila!

Tagcloud for Area Cluster 106 (Information Technologies)

You can look at the bigger graphic over at FlickR, but here's a cloud of the 100 most frequently used terms in CCCC proposals for the 106 cluster. "Speaker" and "presentation" are throwaways, and you could argue the same for "discuss" ("In this presentation, Speaker X will discuss...."). Looks pretty sensible to me--I'd say that blogging and Facebook are the flavors of the year. I may have caused the word "remix" to drop out of the cloud by not including titles--I'm not sure.

One caveat is that not all the panels included prose descriptions--that may just be a matter of time, though. Again, I'm not certain.

One thing I do know, though, and that's that this whole process took me less than an hour, and it would be child's play to go back in, and do it for each cluster, as well as all of the "focuses" and "emphases." Not that I have the time, energy, or schedule to allow me to do so. But it's a fun little experiment, nonetheless.

(I should mention, if anyone sees fit to do some of these, that TagCrowd allows one to create a blackredlist of terms that won't be included. In addition to speaker, presentation, and discuss, I'd probably (were I to redo this one) add become, consider, examine, important, include, and panel. They function here as mostly empty proposal jargon.)

That's all.

October 20, 2006

Had they asked a week ago,

I could have sent them a picture with hair. Oh well. One implication of being tapped for a featured session at CCCC is that I needed to provide them with a headshot. And so...

A smirky little pic of Collin

A few notes:

Yes, that hint of a smirk is as close as I'm able to come to smiling for photos. Don't know why, but it's always been that way. I've never been able to really smile for pictures.

Goodness knows, short of some pretty monumental transformation, I'll never be especially adept at the Academic GlamorShot™ that some people seem to be able to throw down effortlessly.

Looking to the side is the only way that I can have a picture taken where I don't blink during the flash--if I had to guess, I'd say that one of my few superpowers is that I blink faster than the speed of light. Makes it more than a little difficult to get a open-eyed photo of me. Unless I'm looking well off-camera.

In honor of finally rescuing my camera from the trunk of my car, where it had been sitting dormant for close on to six months, I snapped a few of the new arrival at the Mothosphere, the best of which is probably this one, since (a) she's waving at me (or waving a fist at me), and (b) you can see the bottom of her jack o'lantern footsies. This one is linked to a bigger pic at Flickr:

Is. decked out for Halloween

Snip, snap, snout.

October 18, 2006

App season

Paul's got some great advice for folks considering applying to PhD programs, advice worth repeating every year round this time, which is about when the cycle begins in earnest. I've already replied to several inquiries, and expect plenty more. I'd add a few things to his list as well, speaking as someone who's been involved in the process from the committee end for a few years now. So in addition to Paul's 10 points:

Writing Sample: This is one that I think gets misunderstood. Sometimes I see applications where a sample is submitted straight from a course. It doesn't occur to some applicants that it's okay to revise a seminar paper, even after it's been submitted for a course. Every applicant should be asking his or her mentors for feedback on a draft of the writing sample, which is one of the single most important parts of the application (for us, at least).

Searching for Mentors: It's important to find good people to work with, but it's almost equally important to find a program that supports that kind of work. One way to figure this out is to look at recent dissertations. Each of those projects required anywhere from 3 to 5 members of the program, and it's a good sign (above and beyond an individual professor's specialty) when dissertations in your areas of interest are coming out of a program.

Strengths and weaknesses: I'm not a big believer in wearing one's weaknesses on one's sleeve, but be honest with yourself about what you're good at and what you need help with. A program that caters to your strengths will do you good, but one that does so while also helping you shore up other areas will do you great. Both this point and the last one speak to the fact that joining a program will almost always mean doing some of your work (coursework, research, etc.) outside of your immediate interests.

Self-promotion: It's worth repeating what Paul says about this:

You don't have to sell yourself too much--this is not a job application. Being a good student and colleague who will successfully and promptly complete the degree and become a successful member of the field is sufficient.

I see a lot of spin, as you might imagine. The thing about that, though, is that it's not that difficult to see who's bluffing and who's not. Be straightforward about what you've done and what you'd like to do, and that's often enough. I feel about this the same way that I feel about "personalizing" job application letters which, despite some folks' advice, I never do myself nor advise others to do. I've served on admissions committees and search committees galore, and I've never been in a situation where an otherwise unqualified applicant was given special consideration for their personalization of a statement or app letter.

Asking questions: I hardly ever tell someone, in reply to a question, to go read the website, but that doesn't mean that I don't get those kinds of questions. And honestly, it affects how I look at a candidate if that person asks something that a quick trip to the website would answer. We don't put everything up there, by any means, but we do try to share as much information as we can for prospective students.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I'd double plus bold italic underline Paul's first point, though: be sure that doctoral work is for you. It requires a mix of passion, stubbornness, persistence, and interest that is not everyone's cup of tea. If you're at a PhD program already as an MA student, and looking elsewhere, look at your doctoral-level colleagues, and make sure that you can envision yourself doing what they're doing. There are lots of people who don't feel that the rewards of a doctoral program are worth the personal, psychological, and social costs. Be as honest with yourself as you can about your reasons for applying, and make sure that it's the right decision for you.

That's all. Happilicationalizing.

October 17, 2006

Oh. My. Defense. Gods

The Bears had no no no no no business winning tonight, but I'll tell you this: an hour ago, I turned the sound way down and started reading. In the last twenty minutes, I've jumped out of my chair three separate times.

Watching the Bears clock the Seahawks was fun, but this was the best football game I've seen in a long time.

October 14, 2006

Dee-troit Base-a-ball!!

Someone there is who roots against the Tigers?

Not 'round these parts. Of course, it's hard for me to think of Tigers baseball, and their last World Series in 1984, without also looking back fondly on how MLB screwed the Cubs out of what should have been a date with the Tigs. In the annals of Cub futility, 1984 looms pretty large. The Cubs should have had home field advantage in the NLCS (back in the days of no NLDSs), but because they hadn't yet caught on to the idea of rewarding the team with the best record, the Cubs only hosted the first two games (because, you know, it was an even numbered year). They won both handily, whereupon they flew out to San Diego and received a nifty three-game trouncing. Thanks, MLB.

You know I'm getting old when I remember (a) when the leagues only had two divisions and (b) when the NLCS was only five games. Wow. That was Ryne Sandberg's rookie year, and I surprised a co-worker by being able to name 7 of the 8 everyday players (missed Jody Davis), 4 starters (Trout, Sanderson, Sutcliffe, and the pre-closing Eckersley) and the closer (Lee Smith, of course).

Obviously, for the things that matter, I've got a mind like a steel trap.

Go Tigers!!

October 13, 2006

Support the Commons

I just did.

October 11, 2006

Visualizing Meaning

There's a really cool project just down the road from me at Cornell: Visualizing Meaning, which asks Cornell profs to submit an answer to the following question:

Of the many charts (graph, map, diagram, table and ‘other’) you have seen in your life, which has been the most important, remarkable, meaningful or valuable?

It's not a question bound to result in a huge range of answers in our own discipline, unfortunately, but browsing through the various submissions is an interesting process. I do wish that the index were tagged with a little more information than where the person lands alphabetically among Cornell's at-the-time-1943 faculty members (I assume that #s 1943-1982 are new faculty), but the lack of information prompted me to browse more generally, so I guess it's okay.

The question doesn't necessarily require a disciplinary answer, but as I think about it, I come up with few answers. I could certainly borrow illustrations from Tufte, Wurman, or other visual rhetoric oriented texts, but beyond communication models (Jakobson, Shannon/Weaver, Kinneavy), it's hard for me to recall specifically disciplinary charts that I might submit to a project like this. Porter and Sullivan's Opening Spaces or Clay's Tracing Genres Through Organizations pop to mind, but little else.


October 9, 2006


Henry has an interesting entry over at Crooked Timber, riffing on Matthew Yglesias's complaints about "the emergence of a single website with enormous market power—Pitchfork [Media]." In said entry, he compares the near-monopoly of PM to the Mafia, from sort of an organizational standpoint.

One interesting piece is this. A criminal organization has some interest in brokering "bad" transactions, thereby impressing upon its customers the wisdom of sticking with them ("The mafioso himself has an interest in regulated injections of distrust into the market to increase the demand for the product he sells – that is, protection."). Similarly,

one could make a plausible case that critics have an incentive to inject certain amounts of aesthetic uncertainty into the marketplace, by deliberately writing reviews which suggest that bad artists are good, or that good artists are bad, so as to screw with the heads of the listening public. This ensures that the Plain Music-Punters of Ireland remain unsure of their own ability successfully to gauge artistic quality, and don’t start ignoring what pop critics say in favor of following their own aesthetic judgements.

Folks in the comments are rightfully skeptical of this suggestion, at least of the idea that critics might engage in this intentionally. But there's something more to it when I step back, and I'm thinking here in terms of disciplinary networks. If we remove the "good/bad" valuation and just think in terms of information/noise, then I wonder if this isn't an intrinsic feature of any organization where filtering carries reward, even if that reward is just whuffle.

When I think of this, I think of Latour's emphasis on the involvedness of writing, even when it sets itself the "simple" task of description. To describe something is to pay attention to it, attention that is not being paid elsewhere by either writer or reader--at some base level, there's an endorsement implied, and that endorsement either engenders or discourages some degree of trust. There are writers whose work I will read without a second thought because I trust that what they have to tell me is worth my time and attention. This ties into our growth as collectors of whatever, be it academic knowledge, obscure Swedish music, a customer base, etc. It's how we build our personal databases of stuff.

Henry's post has got me thinking in the opposite direction, though. Collection aspires towards canonicity, reading/hearing/seeing/thinking everything and making the database complete. But there's an opposite force as well, one that isn't necessarily evil. Maybe it's just plain old fallibility (Latour makes much of the "risk of failing" necessary for success.), but I also think about how a certain amount of success within an organization allows agents to frame things. I'm thinking of certain people within our field, for instance, whose ability to raise particular concerns or areas of inquiry has been earned by their prior work. Let me try and make this clearer. There are people whose work I read, and spend a couple of years coming to terms with, only to find that they themselves have moved on to other things. And those other things function as noise with respect to the information that I've been assimilating. Those folk are "ahead of" what conversational curve there is in our discipline.

It's like the ratio between given and new (or between centripetal and centrifugal, for that matter), but where the ability to introduce new is related to network centrality. New information, if it is to be anything other than noise, must overcome a certain degree of inertia, which is more easily done from that position of centrality, whether it's in the form of placement in a prominent journal or quasi-celebrity status. But initially it functions as noise, as something else we need to pay attention to.

[A quick amendment: I don't want this to sound like there's inevitability in the noise->information transition, though. Celebs can get a much broader hearing for their ideas, whether or not they're any good. And sometimes those ideas stick around whether or not they're any good, for any number of reasons. Having greater powers of circulation doesn't guarantee better ideas. Sadly enough, in some cases.]

I don't know if any of this is making sense, but I feel like I'm a little closer to something than I was before today. It would be fairly easy, I think, to spin this cynically--academics inventing crap to justify their cushy gigs, blah blah blah--except that I think there's something about it that's not intrinsic to academia but to any organization that involves mediation. And that returns me to Latour, for whom mediation is never transparent or innocent. The idea that a certain amount of noise is inevitable is something I want to think about.

That's all for now.

October 8, 2006

Pure Evil

After a short while, you'll probably want to mute the music, but otherwise, this is pretty damn addicting. I'm just saying.

The-uh-uh-uh Yankees lose!

The only real downside to the Yankees' unceremonious exit from the MLB playoffs is that someone, somewhere, will think that there is no problem with one team being allowed to spend as much money as 7 other teams combined on its roster.

Because the fact of the matter is that they just did it badly. They assembled perhaps the most fearsome lineup in the history of the sport, and coupled it with a truly mediocre pitching staff, only two or three of which they should probably keep for next year.

Okay, the second downside is that we'll be treated to two weeks of "should we watch?" bullshit from the talking heads, since there's no NY team in the ALCS. I hope and pray that Tommy Lasorda is busy filming one of those "to the TV!" commercials that features Yankees fans now. And I hope that's the tack they'll take on ESPN, although I doubt it.

Okay, the third downside is that now ESPN will have no reason to cover actual sports when it comes to the Yankees--it'll be all-gossip all the time. As for me, if that gossip doesn't involve a straight up trade, Alex Rodriguez for Aramis Ramirez, I don't want to hear it. When my team is done, as they were in July this year, I become a baseball fan. Well, and a Bears fan.

October 5, 2006

del.icio.us v net.ritio.us?

Richard MacManus has an entry up that makes reference to an interview that he did with Joshua Schachter, he of del.icio.us fame. Schachter, in talking about the future of my favorite social bookmarking site, explains that

While delicious previously has been very much about just the data, in the future I hope to allow our users themselves to come forward within the system. Additionally, I want to help people connect with others within the system, either to people they already know or discovering new people and communities based on interest.

There's a lively little to-and-fro in the comments, so I won't repeat some of those arguments, but I should say that I have my doubts. Part of it is that "sellout" mentality--the notion that a brighter, shinier, more run-of-the-mill SNA version of delicious will alienate the core users--but I try really hard to resist that part of my thinking.

The bigger issue for me is that there's something kind of cool about just having users exist as a special class of tag, which is how the site currently operates. Inviting them to "come forward" also invites the kind of performativity that rewards certain kinds of behaviors at the expense of others. The downside of the status quo is that you have to be somewhat familiar with how the site works to enact the kind of "discovery" that Schachter talks about.

So while the bare bones of the site, and the idea of tagging itself, has been incorporated all over the place, and almost certainly creates a certain amount of upgrade pressure, my inclination would be to resist it. The neutrality of the site is one of the reasons that I use it for my work on CCC--shifted to an SNA, I'd probably end up rethinking that approach.

We'll see, though.

October 4, 2006

Please pass the fish biscuit

Mostly plot maintenance going on in tonight's episode of Lost--not a lot of answers, and not so much with the Shocking Answers!!!OMG!1! that the boardies seem to want with every episode. I can afford to be a little more patient. One of the things that turned Alias for me was that the constant pressure to keep delivering bigger better faster more eventually put the show over the top, to the point where the show became a parody of itself.

So, there were some obvious parallels tween this and the opener for Season 2, with Petula Clark's "Downtown" instead of "Make your own kind of music," the omnipresent opening eyeball, and another incremental expansion of the outer boundaries of the show's space, adding the villa to the crash site and hatch. Their ability at the villa to get copmrehensive files on Jack is an obvious question, as is the point of the cornucopia of psychological techniques they're using to break down our core characters. Oh, and where'd Hurley go?

So yeah, kind of a slow episode, but some nice moments, some more mysteries, even if they didn't make a big deal of them, and now my Wednesday nights are spoken for.

(I must admit that only the fact that USA is rerunning Kidnapped allowed me to tune in to the Nin9 tonight. I must also admit that I didn't leave that show feeling especially inclined to watch it again.)

Snip, snap, snout.

unsavory light?

I've watched the first two eps of Heroes, and while it's early yet for me to comment, I did want to note in passing the epic lameness of this:

Turns out that "Emerson filed a federal lawsuit in St. Louis on Monday, seeking to block the NBC television network from rebroadcasting the pilot episode of the new show "Heroes," which depicts a woman damaging her hand in a garbage disposal made by the company."

Wait. It gets better: "The suit also says the scene 'casts the disposer in an unsavory light, irreparably tarnishing the product.'"

Ah well. Who doesn't long for those halcyon days when the In-Sink-Erator was viewed, by all of us, in a savory light?

Lost tonight, Collin's delight.

October 3, 2006


Feeling a bit sluggish lately round the old homestead. Hard even to pin down exactly why that might be. Harder even to talk through it without running the risk of inadvertently hailing those who may or may not be inadvertently contributing, y'know?

Part of it, though, is the relentlessness of the meta, which is one of the unspoken dimensions of processes like the search for jobs or the quest for tenure. In both processes, it's not enough to do what we do. We also have to represent the doing of it, which is a whole nother layer of doing, and one that tires me out, frankly.

Not that I don't engage in my own little sidetrips into meta-land, here and elsewhere, but it's the persistence of the self-surveillance and the self-accounting that gets me down, and that trickles down, making it ever more difficult just to do.

Part of it, too, is that I learned last night that a friend passed away. Not a close friend, but a friend nonetheless, and that has me reflecting more than is generally healthy on my various successes and failures in meeting assorted life goals and whatnot. That's about as euphemistic as I can be. So yeah, I'm a little sad, and that tends to feed on itself when not exposed to direct sunlight.

Let's push things forward.

October 1, 2006

Overheard during last night's battle of 'Eyes

Dad: We had to come all the way out to Syracuse to watch Iowa suck?!

Me: Count your blessings. This is the second time this season I've had to be in Syracuse and watched them suck.

Or something like that. They're passing through town en route to Vermont for some cycling, and it was coincidence both that Iowa was playing (losing) on national tv last night and that it's Parents' Weekend here at SU.