Monday, May 28, 2007

In Memory, Wondering Where My Outrage Is

I haven't really stopped sobbing inside, and some outside, today. Another Memorial Day with people on both sides dying in Iraq. On CNN, Anderson Cooper's 360, tonight called Coming Home, is almost unbearable.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Out of Office

Dear Professors,
Just a teeny suggestion. Don't list "your" secretary as a contact in your out of office message when you indicate you are not available. Chances are, that person doesn't care to be contacted about business only you can handle anyway. And the person who made the request isn't interested in talking to your secretary about your business. That person is writing to you. Just a teeny suggestion. And really, professor friends, how many of you "have" a secretary anyway?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gotcha: I see a 95 Mustang in a Film about the First Iraq War!

OCD-like behavior manifests itself in odd places. Take the "goofs" section in listings on While some of us may enjoy noting a 1995 magazine cover in a film set in the 1980s, it is a point of trivial conversation. There are folks who seem to make it their task to ferret out these anomalies. Here below are the "goofs" from the film The Squid and the Whale, recommended by my daughter after she saw it in an English class in college this past week. I wonder if a member of my dissertation committee, now long gone, lives on. We called him Professor Tidy Bowl.

Goofs for The Squid and the Whale (2005)

Anachronisms: At the end of the movie, Walt enters the newly renovated marine exhibit of the Museum of Natural History through the Hall of Biodiversity. The Hall of Biodiversity did not exist in 1986, it was added to the museum in approximately 2000, and the marine exhibit was renovated about a year later.

Anachronisms: In the middle of the movie, Walt is waiting on a subway platform. A train goes by, and you can glimpse an American flag on the side of the train. Flags decals weren't put on New York subway trains until after the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001.

Anachronisms: Late model cars (ie, cars made after 1986) can be seen during most exterior shots.

Anachronisms: Bernie's car has a Statue of Liberty license plate, which didn't start appearing until 1986. But his car's registration says 1986 on it, which means it was issued in 1984, so it should have the older blue-on-yellow license plate.

Anachronisms: When the Berkmans are speaking to Walt's teacher about his plagiarism of the song "Hey You" by Pink Floyd during his performance during the talent show, there is a poster behind the teacher promoting reading featuring the WWE wrestler Hurricane. This wrestler made his WWE debut in 2001.

Anachronisms: Numerous late model vehicles are visible in many of the outdoor scenes.

Anachronisms: The shelves of the school library include at least two sets of reference books that were published after 1986: the 1997 Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara and the "Millennium 2000" edition of the World Book encyclopedia.

Anachronisms: When Walt visits his father in the hospital, there is a Purell Anti-Bacterial Hand Dispenser on the wall in the background.

Miscellaneous: Tennis pro Ilie Nastase's first name is misspelled as "Ille" on the poster in Frank's new room.

Audio/visual unsynchronized: Frank's mouth is closed when, in front of a bathroom mirror, he observes that he has the same bone structure as his mother. Joan is heard to speak in this same scene, and her mouth never moves either, as viewed in the mirror.

Miscellaneous: The Squid and the Whale display in the museum is in reality not nearly as well lit as it is in the movie. It is a very dark display meant to simulate the inky depths of the ocean. It probably would not show up on film as it really exists.

Anachronisms: The NYC subway cars shown throughout the film were introduced in the late '90s. The NYC subway cars of 1986 would be coated with graffiti both inside and out.

Anachronisms: The ambulance that takes Bernard away is painted FDNY red. EMS was not merged into the fire department until the '90s, and prior to that ambulances were painted in the EMS colors: orange, blue and white.

Anachronisms: The fence seen around the reservoir in Central Park was built in 2003. The Whale Room in the Museum of Natural History was renovated to look as in the movie in around 2004.

Anachronisms: When Walt is learning 'Hey You' from the record and from the book, the book has the song in standard music notation and in tablature, but tablature was just starting in the guitar magazines of the mid-1980s and the style of the book is also from a much later date.

Anachronisms: The ambulance that takes the father to the hospital after he has his heart attack has the logo of the twin towers on the back that were not used until after 11 September 2001

Anachronisms: The police officer who issues Jeff Daniels a ticket for double parking is wearing a Navy blue uniform. Those were introduced to the NYPD in 1994. The uniforms in 1986 were sky blue.

Anachronisms: Many of the cars parked on the street throughout the entire movie are cars made in the late 1990s as well as the early 21st century. These cars would not have been around in the 1980s.

Audio/visual unsynchronized: In the dinner scene at Bernard's new home, Frank asks him what happened to his old agent. Bernard responds with "Pissed me off," but in the shot he is clearly chewing rather than speaking.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tabletop Studies Take Off

The recent controversy at Purdue about whether a researcher achieved "tabletop"fusion hasn't stopped the interest in tabletop projects elsewhere on campus.
A group of literary theory professors in various departments in the College of Liberal Arts have been investigating tabletop deconstruction. "We believe if we bombard the author enough times, we can achieve the fusion of horizons beyond what Hans-Georg Gadamer would have predicted!" shouts a recent newsletter article.
Other projects elsewhere on campus are investigating tabletop nutrition (appropriately called the Center for Dining TableTop Inquiry), tabletop soil science (spreading soil samples from Purdue's project in Mongolia on a nano-sized table to detect minute changes in soil composition), as well as a promising venture in the School of Veterinary Medicine on tabletop pets for this year's holiday season.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Deficit Spending

Input: Won award as outstanding "faculty fellow**" at the residence hall where I have only been associated for one year. Got certificate, pen, paperweight, various other items, and a mug with candy in it.

Output: While chewing on candy, broke tooth, thus necessitating a visit tomorrow to dentist (aka Wallet Vacuumer) for perhaps a $1300 crown.

As my brother's father-in-law, in his 90s and just now declining, says about aging and deteriorating health, "Whaddya gonna do?"

**Euphemism for "mostly staff program" as most faculty at places like Purdue don't spend much time with undergraduates.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Driftwood Horses

Check out these amazing driftwood horses, by Heather Jansch. More here. Hat tip to my dear friend Manny in Tallahassee.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mac Lack

Apple Macintosh users are about 5% of the total. Maybe that is why they are so loud and boisterous about their machines, bleating on about how wonderful they are.

  • You can't right-click with a Mac. Yes, yes, you can get a special mouse or use a PC mouse and it will work. But there is no right-clicking on a Mac laptop's touchpad. Dumb. I right-click ALL the time. Would be lost without it.

  • Macs are, comparably, twice as expensive as PCs.

  • Vista has now closed the gap on operating systems.

  • There is less software for Macs. And it is more expensive.

So why, dear reader, do folks use Macs? Why do they spend twice as much money? It is because they are imprinted and enslaved to the machine. They like the image of being "cool." Macs are sexy, I grant it. They are nice to look at. But the simple fact that you have to hit the touchpad and another key to do a right-click eliminates them for me.

PCs, as the ads show, are for engineery nerds with glasses who calculate how much time you are wasting. OK. But Mac users swear that all that extra money is SO WORTH IT! Sorry, I don't get it. Besides, I live in the Midwest, so I don't worry about being seen as sexy!

Just Texted in to the E-mail and Land Lines are for Oldies Desk

From the most e-mailed article in today's CHE (full article for subscribers only...c'mon CHE, get with it!)

Colleges are pressing ahead despite the bumps because they realize that cellphones are the best, and often the only, way to reach their students.

"We noticed that students were not logging into their campus e-mail for weeks at a time," says Arthur Downing, chief information officer at the City University of New York's Bernard M. Baruch College.

That observation was repeated at colleges across the country. E-mailed announcements of campus events, course changes, and financial-aid deadlines were being ignored wholesale.

So were dormitory-room land lines. "They just weren't plugging in," says Ronald G. Forsythe, vice president for commercialization at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, who oversees campus communications there. The reason, he adds, was that most students had already obtained cellphones in high school and brought them to the campus.

"Ninety-eight percent of our students come to campus with a cellphone already," says Edward V. Chapel, vice president for information technology at Montclair State University, in New Jersey.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

On Fire

Add high winds, 6% humidity, and Griffith Park in Los Angeles is on FIRE! Just incredible shots on CNN...There's that observatory from Rebel without a Cause, foregrounded in bright orange...

Last week, I was in Florida, which now is, as in the summer of 1998 when we did FLAMES! Florida on Fire, Florida in Flames shouted the TV in our room.

Sein und IPod

Philosophy for the ear-bud generation!

CFP: The iPod and Philosophy
The iPod has become an international cultural phenomenon. We enjoy iPods for a number of reasons, from the easily navigated soundtrack to our days to the clean, elegant design, and strangely pleasing tactile interface. But there seems to be special public devotion to the iPod above its competitors.
We invite abstracts of proposed contributions to this upcoming volume in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy Series to examine the iPod phenomenon from philosophical and related points of view. Topics may include:
* Phenomenology of being-in-the-world-iPodded
* Personal Identity and the Music Library
* Fair Use and Digital Rights Management
* The ethics of filesharing
* Podcasting and artist-public relations
* Randomness and the meaning of the shuffle feature
* Class-distinction and Self-expression
* Is the iPod really "The Perfect Thing" (Levy, 2006)
* Apple and Orwell: marketing or metaphysics?
* Are iPod or Apple devotees a cult?
* Per-song vs. Per-album modes of aesthetic engagement
* What is the public sphere, exactly, and are we losing it?
* The meaning and role of the "cool" as exemplified by the iPod
* Marketing of "lifestyle" and the Culture Industry
Philosophical perspectives may be Analytic, Continental, Pragmatic, or Non-Western. Areas which we expect will be of particular interest include Philosophy of Technology, Critical Theory, Phenomenology, Aesthetics, and Social/Political, but we strongly encourage you to be creative, and welcome submissions from less obvious areas.
Submissions may address the iPod by way of philosophy, or philosophy by way of the iPod (or both).
The Popular Culture and Philosophy series engages with an intellectually curious general public. Papers will be written for a non-academic audience, and will be around 12 to 20 pages total.
Please send a 300-400 word abstract and CV to before June 22nd, 2007.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Viva La France!

France A. Córdova takes the stage at Loeb Playhouse this afternoon, after being named as Purdue's 11th President! More here.

Now chancellor of UC Riverside, she starts in August. Her speech and Q&A were marvelous, and exciting to many of us. She spoke of a more inclusive campus, and said repeatedly she was a listener. She has an easy grace and a sense of humor. A petite woman with a terrific smile.

A former NASA space scientist and professor of physics, she has been a department head at Penn State and vice chancellor for research at UC Santa Barbara. The oldest of 12 children, Córdova is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a fifth-generation Irish-American. She earned her undergraduate degree in English from Stanford, and decided afterwards to pursue her longstanding interest in science by getting a PhD in physics at Cal Tech.

She was inspired as a young woman by Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon in July 1969. Armstrong is a Purdue alumnus, and a new, dramatic, engineering building named after him is being finished on the north end of campus.

. Armstrong Hall

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Purdue Jet Heads for California

The Purdue jet left West Lafayette for California today, according to the nightly news. That can only mean that it is picking up our next president.

Looks like France Córdova, chancellor at UC Riverside, is set to be named Purdue's 11th president on Monday afternoon, and then introduced to the community at a reception at the Purdue Memorial Union.

One of 12 children, she has a bachelor's in English from Stanford, and a PhD in physics from Cal Tech. It is very exciting to think that Purdue will have its first female president, and a Latina too! Add to that my new colleague, Nathalia Jaramillo, now finishing her dissertation under Peter McLaren at UCLA, shares some of the same background.

(Dear reader, you would have to spend time in the Midwest, in Indiana, at an enormous land grant university, perhaps even to have read the inspiration for this blog, Jane Smiley's novel Moo, to understand the sea change this represents.)

Derby Daze

Liveblogging the Derby a bit. As someone who spends a fair amount of time with animal behaviorists and other people involved in the human-animal relations area, I must admit, I do watch the Derby usually, but I watch with a bit of sadness too.
Here we are, humans, but animals too, carrying on and watching horses do what WE want them to do. All the while displaying our hats (Jenny McCarthy, Jennifer Tilly, the Queen too) and our cleavage (Tilly and McCarthy again), as well as the absurd "entourages" of brand name products like Michael Jordan, and the blinged NFL stars here to be seen in their shades and expensive suits. Isn't this all a bit unseemly and arrogant of humans?
Update: Just love watching those horses run, but still. Nice job, Street Sense.

Just in to the Computer as Doorstop Desk

From Arts and Letters Daily:

A laptop for every student was to be the key to success in schools for the 21st century. That's what the experts told us... more