Friday, June 30, 2006

Graceland, the VIP tour

As Debbie notes, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan was treated to a tour of Graceland today.

But *he* didn't have to stand in line for hours. (He did, however, have to stand for several souvenier photographs--a requirement (yes, requirement! we were forced!) for all visitors to Graceland).

He was greeted at the door not by an anonymous tour "guide" but by Priscilla and Lisa Marie.

He didn't have to wear headphones to hear what he was looking at, where to move next.

He got to *walk* on the shag carpet, not just look at it.

He even put on a pair of Elvis's sunglasses.

At least they didn't let him upstairs.

CNN offers some fairly unremarkable video, though it does include footage of Bush and Koizumi standing around in the Jungle Room.

Which leads me to say: it's all bleeding together, isn't it? Where does Graceland end and the Bush administration begin? According to CNN,

White House press secretary Tony Snow -- wearing gold-rimmed plastic sunglasses -- did his best, meanwhile, to fuel lingering conspiracy theories that the singer never died, saying that Bush and Koizumi were likely to go to Elvis' "alleged grave site."

Hiring a Fox news personality as a press secretary. Appointing a Goldman Sachs CEO as treasury secretary. (After John Snow resigned--perhaps to help reduce any confusion over the two Snows?) Entertainment and government, executive branch and private executives: it all bleeds.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Being back

Goodness. No post in over a week. Since I've been blogging for real, I think that's been the longest gap.

Mostly, I was in Texas. My father turned 80 on Tuesday, and my family had a little celebration for him over the weekend. I just returned late yesterday late in the afternoon.

But, unexpectedly, I flew there. C. and I were going to drive down, but C's 98-year-old grandmother died last week, and the funeral was Saturday. We tried to come up with a way to make it possible for both of us to be at the funeral *and* the birthday celebration, but it just wasn't working out. So he took the bus to Michigan, and I flew to Texas.

And, just for the record, C. says he'll never take Greyhound again. Too much waiting around in sad bus stations. Too much time sitting.

Another way people who aren't rich get constrained in space and time.

Not that my day was without lots of sitting and waiting, but at least I had more choices (for the most part) for where to walk, sit, buy coffee.

At any rate, we're both back, so more, better blogging soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


This week I'm participating in TeAchnology, an afternoon workshop with both presentations on new media software and time for one-on-one interaction with the educational technology staff at MU. I want to make a wonderful, interactive website to use in the class I teach for new GTAs. Here's a map I made today (with Inspiration) to visualize what I want to include. If you go to Flickr and look at the large version, I think you can actually read it.

Teaching Writing map

Those outermost circles on the right should really be blue. I'll have to fix that, but I can't from my home computer.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


This morning's This American Life, predictably, was about fathers.

The second story recounted a son taking his father, suffering from Alzheimer's, on a trip to visit the old neighborhood:

Photographer Joel Meyerowitz decided to go on a last big trip with his father Hy (on the left), who has Alzheimer's. Joel also brought his own son. The purpose of the trip? To try to get close to a part of Hy's personality that Alzheimer's has eradicated, to see if it might be possible to jumpstart some of his memories.

Toward the end, Meyerowitz (the narrator) said that his father's strongest memories were of being unnoticed, unloved. He included his father's own voice, saying over and over, No one saw me. Even Sally [his wife]. She never saw me.

So raw.

Then my father called (as he always does on Sunday mornings, even if it's Father's Day and I might more appropriately call him). He turns 80 next week, and I'll be taking a little secret trip to TX next weekend to celebrate with him and the rest of the family. His short-term memory is very, very fragile. Talking to him, with that other father's tortured fragments of memory in my head, was disorienting, strange.

The last time I saw his brother, my uncle, he must have been in his mid 80s. It was a family reunion. I hadn't seen him for a few years. When I greeted him, happy to see him, he greeted me. Without recognition. He said to a member of his immediate family that he didn't know anyone there, at this family reunion. Only my father.

My father. My memory. Another person's story. For Father's Day.

Friday, June 16, 2006

NYU Archive

In connection with an article I'm writing with my ever-popular colleague R, I've been doing some reading of documents related to the NYU Graduate Assistant strike. And I have to admit to being rather astonished to find that NYU has made public a number of documents, including (what must surely be a selection of) letters from folks outside of NYU, protesting the hard line taken by the administration. It's all here.

And, just in case you're interested in doing some research of your own, a couple of other relevant sources follow:

NYU GSOC website (UAW Local 2110)

AAUP Graduate Assistant page, with statements and news releases in response to the NYU affair

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Right speech

Let's see, what was I telling Scot at RSA? Something about how I feel obligated to blog as close to every day as possible, so that those who check the blog will at least have something new to look at? And when was the last time I blogged? Uh, Sunday?

I wonder if it has anything to do with Right Speech?

I've been reading about "Right Speech" as part of an online group studying the Pali Suttas. "Right Speech" is one part of the Noble Eightfold Path, and the path as a whole is the Fourth Noble Truth: the path that leads out of suffering.

As a rhetorician, I'm interested in Right Speech as a possible way of thinking rhetoric outside of the ancient Greek and Roman tradition (or, at least, alongside it). So far, Right Speech has been presented as primarily a matter of what not to say:

Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from divisive speech, abstinence from abusive speech, abstinence from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

All those abstinence policies might make me think twice about what I blog.

Then again, I'm not sure that's why I haven't been blogging so much. Still, it might give me pause, mightn't it?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Finals watching

You know, the attention I give to the NBA, I gotta admit, waxes and wanes. It's been waning a good bit since the Pacers have increasingly disappointed over the last few years. But back when Reggie was still Reggie and they could even get their own rebounds, I remember watching the 1999 Finals and being impressed by a certain player for the Spurs.

No, not one of the "Twin Towers" (as they were called in our pre-2001 innocence), though they were fun to watch in their skillful tallness. I'm talking about the shortest player out there: Avery Johnson.

And--can you believe it?--in his first season as head coach, he's in the Finals. He didn't even get drafted out of college, folks: he had to work his way in. Amazing tenacity. Not to mention talent.

So: Go Mavs! (I did, after all, grow up a mere 60 miles to the west of Dallas. Hometown spirit and all.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

One may smile, and smile . . .

While working out the other day, I saw the new national ad put out by UnionFacts[dot]com. (You can view it by going to the website and clicking on "Our Ads." I'm choosing not to link directly.) "Workers" in various work settings sarcastically declare their love for "forced union dues," "union bosses," and other alleged union abuses. The kicker? They're all smiling. Smiling sweetly. So if you aren't really paying attention to what they're saying, if you aren't already inclined to hate unions, you might go away from the visual affect of the smiles aligned with the word "union" to have a more or less positive association with unions.

That's what I like about the ad. That it potentially subverts its own message.

As for the organization sponsoring the ad, more below the fold.

If you go to, you'll be hard pressed to find the name of any person or organization behind this site. On the "about us" page, they claim,

The Center for Union Facts is a non-profit organization supported by foundations, businesses, union members, and the general public. We are dedicated to showing Americans the truth about today's union leadership.

That, combined with the fact that some of their information about unions (including AFT) comes from wikipedia (which I'm not knocking, but seems kind of a curious source for a "fact" finding organization), made me wonder who could possibly be behind this. Happily, the Center for Media and Democracy has already done the hard work of source checking for me. The organization keeps its supporters secret because, they claim,

unions have a long history of targeting anyone who opposes them, whether it be in a threatening way or by lodging campaigns against them.

Um, yeah. And they're making the analogy between unions and police states. Let's see: isn't secrecy a prime strategy of police states?

(And, by the way: what's up with blogger? I've been having trouble logging on, and now the editing template is all screwed up. Here's hoping this actually posts without looking too strange.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another bloggy dilemma

Let's say you go to your mailbox one day and find that you've been sent a manuscript to review for a journal in your field. And the mixture of excitement and aversion springs up: will this be good, or will it stink? Will it be a pleasure or a pain? But because you know that out of all the many manuscripts you've ever reviewed for various journals, only two or three have actually ever seen their way to publication, you suspect this one may also be only so so, and you settle in to being ok with that.

So you open the large envelope, scan the title. And recognition pops up. You skim the pages, and the more you skim, the more you're convinced you've seen this, some of this, before.

You're pretty sure this manuscript is something you've read about on a blog. Maybe you've even read bits of it in a fledgling stage on a blog. Maybe not. You can't be sure. And you resist the urge to go immediately to search the blog in question. You think you're better off not knowing.

Because it's all supposed to be anonymous, right? But, you think, surely this must happen all the time. Not the blogging part, but the moment of recognition. Especially with manuscripts by people whose work is widely known in the field. It isn't like being an impartial jurist, is it?

And so, my blogging friends, I ask you: has this ever happened to you? Suppose, just suppose, it did. Would you tell the editor? Would you just read and respond, since it's always possible you're wrong? (Even though you're about 99% sure you're right.)

Because bias is present, I can tell you that. My so-so assumption immediatly jumped to the "this is going to be good" assumption.

And if you read this and wonder if the MS might be yours: my lips are sealed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

In retreat

I won't have internet access for the next few days, so no blogging or emailing for awhile. Back Sunday night/Monday morning. Cheers, all.