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9.17.2014

Hug 'Em Up and Build Respect

I'm no perfect parent, so I won't tell anyone else how to go about executing one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs there is in life. My folks weren't perfect either, but I have nothing but respect for how they raised my sisters and me. They were fair and clear with their boundaries. When we pushed them, we were punished. I took the strap once. Another time I got a spanking. 

These were teaching moments, and certainly not abuse.

I spanked Lyla when she was a toddler. She'd run out into the street, and I gave her three quick swats through her diaper. The message made it through, and that was the last time she's had a spanking (though Jeanne and I both use the threat of a spanking as a motivator). It's also the last time I can recall her walking into a parking lot or wandering out into the street without taking full stock of the situation.

I much prefer to discipline our daughter through expectations and respect. She respects us (and she is a very well-behaved five-year-old girl), and it's clear that she is hurt when we aren't pleased with her. We have had some good talks recently about behavior, and we're fine with taking away some of the things that she loves doing with us (trips to the beach, the movies, the park). That seems to do the trick so far. 

Cris Carter made an impassioned plea on air (ESPN) the other day. He said that parents need to understand that times have changed. There are other ways of dealing with familial discipline--ways that don't include physical or emotional scarring.

I'll leave it at that. Parenting is a journey, and context changes things. To this point, I can only say that a stern word or two followed up with a heartfelt hug has been working well for us... 

9.05.2014

The Ducks Prepare to Win the Day!



ESPN Gameday will be in Eugene tomorrow for the day's best game. Michigan State and Oregon will mix it up tomorrow night at 6:30 eastern in a game that will go a long way toward deciding how the inaugural playoff will go in a few months.

Oregon is 10-1-1 against major, non-conference foes in the last two decades. This game is at home, in the magical confines of Autzen, where it never, ever rains. 

The Ducks have built an empire on offense. Speed and depth at every position, in addition to a superior offensive line, will help the Ducks put up points quickly. But it's the defense that has to step up in a run-stopping scheme (play cover 2 and bring a safety up, Coach Pellum) to keep this game winnable.

I hope for the same things tomorrow that I hope for in every Oregon football matchup:

  • I want to see great effort and enthusiasm. This is our season, right here...right now.
  • I want to see a good, competitive game. 
  • I want us to make it through without major injuries.
Troy Hill and Ife-Ekpre Olomu can certainly lock up the MSU wideouts. So let's focus on that line of scrimmage (looking at you, Buckner and Armstead), stay in our assignments, and bring help from the safeties. Once we get some stops (and I really don't care at all about yards; just stops and minimizing scoring), we can unleash Freeman, Tyner, Marshall, Carrington, Stanford, and the rest of the crew...

Go Ducks! Win the day!

9.04.2014

The Leftovers Season Finale

In what has become a pretty popular cliffhanger technique in serial drama of late, The Leftovers flashed back to fill in the stories of what happened to the story's protagonists on the day of the departure. It was an instructive episode, and all the more interesting just to see the members of The Guilty Remnant in their ordinary lives.

It's a heart-breaking episode, because of its painful honesty. We see the harried mother whose wailing baby abruptly disappears, knowing full well that all she would ever want is to hear the child's cries again. We see the Garveys in all of their disfunctional splendor--each emotionally ragged and clutching at straws to find some semblance of happiness. We see Nora's final interaction with her children. She harshly criticizes her kids for spilling juice on her phone, just before the event snatches them away. A very nice touch is the close-up on the pattering drops of juice. 

It happened just that quickly.

The episode wets our appetite for season two, but it also illustrates the perfect insanity of family life. These are our warts, and we don't know how much we need them until we see (or are forced to live) and alternative that is oh-so-much worse.

Pretty good series, and just another example of how HBO is creating some of the best television available today...

8.27.2014

Down the Digital Road...

With comprehensive exams and a few more essays looming in the very near future, get a load of this reading list:

1.      Banks, Adam. Race, Rhetoric, and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground.
2.      Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation.
3.      Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art…”
4.      Birkerts, Sven. “Into the Electronic Millenium.”
5.      Bolter, J. David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print.
6.      Burnard, et. al. Electronic Textual Editing.
7.      Cohen and Rosenzweig. Digital History: A guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.
8.      Delagrange, Susan. The Technologies of Wonder.
9.      Eubanks, Virginia. Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age.
10.  Grabill, Jeff. Writing Community Change: Designing Technologies for Citizen Action.
11.  Haraway, Donna Jeane. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.
12.  Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman.
13.  Headrick, Daniel. When Information Came of Age.
14.  Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture.
15.  Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
16.  Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information.
17.  Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture.
18.  Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media.
19.  McGann, Jerome. Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web.
20.  Misa, Thomas. Leonard to the Internet.
21.  Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet.
22.  Norman, Donald. Living with Complexity.
23.  Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy.
24.  Rice, Jeff. The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.
25.  Sullivan and Porter. Opening Spaces.
26.  Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen.
27.  Ulmer, Gregory. Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy.
28.  Vandendrope, Christian. From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Library.
29.  Vogt, et. al. When to Use What Research Design.
30. Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort. The New Media Reader.

Just cracked open Digital History last night and I'm enjoying it. That said, might not come up for air until some time around Thanksgiving!

8.18.2014

Boo-hoo Breakfast...

We experienced the inevitable this morning with taking our sweet little girl to her first day of kindergarten. It was awesome to walk together to our neighborhood school, which has such a sense of spirit and positivity! Her teacher seems very sweet and knowledgeable, and her class is small.

I must admit to some shiny eyes as she fell into line for her first day. She was so excited that she tossed and turned all night, and I think the experience was overwhelming for her as well. We'll go pick her up around 4:00 and take her to the YMCA, just to get back into a familiar routine for her. 

Big day, friends! Big day indeed...

8.14.2014

The Situation in Ferguson is Surreal...

In New New Media, Paul Levinson writes perceptively about social media and citizen journalism. He analyzes the social context of events such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wallstreet movements. Last night, my Twitter timeline blazed with dozens and dozens of tweets on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Images of armor-clad tactical police units demanding identification from American citizens in a suburban McDonalds are, to say the least, unsettling. Part of the definition of surreal, at least as it applies to politics, is that notion of building an unsettling atmosphere. To see the very symbol of American homogeneity (those ubiquitous Golden Arches) being invaded like a drug house on the other side of the tracks was astonishing. 

It just went downhill from there. Police units firing rubber bullets into crowds and lobbing gas grenades into packs of American citizens. Arresting journalists for taking pictures of the demonstrations.

Sheesh.

Twitter delivered the crazy directly to my couch, in more ways than one. Sure, there was great reporting from legitimate journalists. There was also rabid, angry race baiting and the same kinds of ignorance that caused Zelda Williams to flee social media altogether.

What a double-edged sword. At the same time that folks are using new media to create some form of social justice in a terrible situation, a large and vocal faction has thrown civility right out the window. At least, in the days of print primacy, writers had to sign their names to the letters they wrote to the editorial pages...

The President needs to say something more equivocal on what is taking place there, and the images and stories coming out of Ferguson deserve to be reported. There seems to be a lot of blame to go around in this situation:
County Police Chief Jon Belmar, though, said his officers have responded with "an incredible amount of restraint," as they've been the targets of rocks, bottles and gunshots, with two dozen patrol vehicles being destroyed.
Restricting the flow of information, however, is not a justifiable reaction by law enforcement (the journalists were, however, released without charges). I hope this all ends soon, and with no more loss of human life. This community needs answers, and it needs to heal. The sooner, the better...


8.06.2014

Kindle Unlimited a Race to Ubiquity and Dominance?

Musician David Byrne said some interesting things a few months ago about Spotify, and it will be interesting to see how Kindle Unlimited stacks up on royalties over the coming months. Hugh Howey touched on this in his balanced blog post on the service.

I have a few titles available in Select (Maximum Dark, and a couple of short stories), and I'm taking a cautionary approach with going all-in. 

The thing is, that one can experience some marketing spread by sticking with other vendors. I love Amazon as a business for its customer experience, to be sure, and they've done a good job with busting the ebook market wide open. I tend to fall in line more closely with Howey, and I think that this will have a similar effect on the market that the KOLL program had. 

But Byrne's comments are keen. Writers need to realize that there are other ways to market and value their wares. Consider a Goodreads ad campaign (yes, I know where the revenue goes) or a BookBub promotion. Consider bumping prices to a more sustainable $4.99-$7.99 for novels.

Until we see the figures by Amazon, it's hard to gauge what these subscription services will do for writers. Best to just keep working and watching the market...