After the boys of summer have gone/looking to the school year ahead

Benninghoff and I played what is likely our last round of weekday golf yesterday out at Pierce Lake. A couple of the EMU folks who I play with once in a while were already too busy, and Bill HD and his colleagues at Michigan State started last week, so Friday’s long round– which included the classic golf lunch of a hot dog with chips and beers at the ‘hoff’s house afterwords– seemed more than a moment of closure; it kind of seemed like we had pushed it one step too far.

Ah yes, and as a child of the 70’s/80’s, I of course have this running through my head:

Anyway, on to work for the school year– or rather, back to work since I did teach in the summer term too, sort of.

There are some interesting changes coming up for me. For starters, this will be the first year in four or five years in which I will actually not have some sort of quasi-administrative duty. Between my quasi-sabbatical and my year of interim WPA-ing before that, I have taught a total of four classes in the last two years (not counting spring and summer); this year, I’ll teach 3 and 3. I’m looking forward to it because I’m retooling English 328 a bit, I’m taking my first whack at the graduate Rhetoric of Science and Technology course, and I’m not really doing much of anything in terms of administrative/service work. Well, comparatively speaking. I’m still on the department’s personnel committee, I am going to help maintain the writing program web site, etc., etc. But the theory that I am going to be testing in my own mind this school year is trying to figure out what is “more work,” just teaching or teaching a bit less and doing quasi-administrative things too? My theory right now is that “just teaching” will be less work; we’ll see.

Other items/resolutions for the new school year:

  • Take my own damn advice and at least “touch” the book project every work day. I read Deb Hawhee’s post reflecting on her first sabbatical with some interest the other day because I have come to the conclusion that a) I sabbaticalled quite poorly, and b) a sabbatical just might not be for me. I don’t know, but I am afraid that I might be the kind of person where I just get a lot more done the more demands from other things I have on my time, so the time/freedom of a sabbatical is too much rope for me to hang myself with. Get back to me in about seven years on this though; by then, I might actually be able to afford to take a full year. In any event, I have actually been able to take my own advice on the BAWS project as of late; hopefully I can keep it up.
  • Do not twist and turn my schedule too much just to attend a meeting, and do not go to my office on Tuesdays and Thursdays for any reason whatsoever. This is part of letting go of that “I must be involved in everything” feeling, but it is also because of my station/lot in life right now. Without going into a lot of detail about it right now, I guess I’ve decided that at this point in my career at EMU, I don’t think I need to bend-over backwards in terms of the rest of my life’s schedule to attend some meeting.
  • Get to the gym, get in better shape, lose some weight. The “get to the gym” part has gotten considerably easier to do since Annette and I joined the Health and Fitness Center at WCC. It costs too much money, but the nice thing about the expense is that the facilities are fantastic, which makes going there a lot more pleasant, and it’s too expensive to not use, which raises my motivation to go there so as to not waste too much money. I have a particular weight loss goal for the term in my mind, but I am not going to reveal any of the details of it here, of course. If I accomplish it, I’ll post about that.
  • Take these things called “weekends.” When Annette and I were in our PhD programs, we pretty much worked every day. That was a good thing to get us through in a rapid fashion, but I still haven’t really gotten out of the work every day habit. Sometimes, it’s awfully hard to determine and define what is “work” and what is something “not work” that I would just do– reading Jill Walker Retteberg’s new book Blogging is a good example. But generally speaking, I am going to strive to save Saturdays and Sundays for doing stuff around the house, hanging with the fam’, maybe golfing a few times more while the weather holds, reading, and not doing clearly work things like grading, responding to student emails, prepping for class, etc. We’ll see how it goes.

Speaking of which: now I am off to the gym and then I’m going to work on getting my grad class together since yesterday’s golf counted as a weekend day for me….

Badly behaving debaters

Via my google read, I came across this Chronicle of Higher Ed article, “Debate Coach Fired and Team Suspended After Mooning.” Here are the first couple paragraphs of the article:

Fort Hays State University fired a professor and debate coach on Friday, just weeks after video surfaced on YouTube of his dropping his shorts in front of judges at a national tournament. The university also suspended its debate team, one of the best in the country, over concerns that the collegiate-debate circuit had become too uncivilized.

The coach, William Shanahan III, a professor of communication, got into a shouting match with a judge—and at one point briefly dropped his shorts and exposed his underwear—during the national tournament this past spring of the Cross Examination Debate Association.

The New York Times had a similar article. And here’s a pretty good commentary on the piece, “No ifs, ands, butts about civil debate.”

Curiously, both articles lack a couple of key links. First, there is the video– yes, actual video at the debate– of the event in question:

There are a variety of different remixes and such on YouTube too. It wasted my morning, I can tell you that.

The actual mooning event happens quickly (I didn’t see it the first time through) and at about the 36-37 second mark. Though the video goes on for quite a while after that. I watched about three minutes and then scanned through the rest. To be honest, I can’t really tell what the argument/fight here is about– I am guessing a disagreement about a decision. One article I read said it happened after the quarter final round. Note that the screaming match involves people saying “fuck” quite a bit.

And it turns out that Professor Shanahan has a blog, though he hasn’t updated it since June.

To me, it looks like these folks have just gone kind of nuts, cracking under the pressure of a big tournament, and– this is just a guess– sleep deprivation. These late tournament rounds often don’t begin until well into the evening after a full day of competition. And you have to remember that debate at this level is as much of a competitive and intense an event as the game to play into the “final four” at the NCAA basketball tournament. When I was in high school and college debate 20+ years ago, I saw plenty of arguments where an occasional “f bomb” was thrown. So in the broad sense, I don’t think the idea of a near brawl breaking out is that weird.

Still, just as you don’t routinely see basketball coaches throwing chairs across the court, you don’t usually see arguing coaches/debaters dropping their pants, if even briefly.

I also think this video is ample evidence of something that every academic already knows: just because you are a professor and you have a PhD doesn’t mean you are above behaving badly.

Escaped dog poo art creates haveoc

Giant inflatable turdA little light web browsing this morning/this lunchtime, and I came across this at Wooster Collective: “Paul McCarthy’s Dog Poo Creates Havok In Berne.” It’s not real poo; just a giant inflatable dog turd. Here’s a quote: “The art work, titled “Complex Shit”, is the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 metres (yards) from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children’s home, said museum director Juri Steiner.”

Who says that art isn’t both fun and dangerous?

Obama “Seven” ad: This one might have legs

Or so I can hope:

The upshot here is that McCain was asked during a press conference where he said everything was “okie-dokie” with the economy, someone asked him how many houses he owned, and he said he couldn’t remember and to “get back” with him on that. Here’s the video:

To be fair, the Obamas are hardly paupers themselves, though I have to assume that they own only one home. It’d be a pretty bad “don’t throw rocks if you live in glass houses” sort of political move if that weren’t the case. And, as I heard clarified on NPR this evening, the McCains really have “only” four homes they use on a regular basis: one in Virginia, two in Arizona, and one in California. The McCain spokesperson said that there were other “investment properties” in the mix.

Still, this whole thing raises a couple of important points.

First, John McCain is rich— like really freakin’ rich. Well, at least his wife is really rich– she inherited one of the largest beer distributor businesses in the country– but that seems like fair territory to me since so much was made of Kerry’s rich wife by George “my family has more money than God and Satan combined” H.W. Bush. Obama has had his own quasi-shady real estate dealings, but as FactCheck.org suggests, there’s really not a there there.

Second, how full of dementia do you have to be to forget and/or not be able to clearly answer the simple question “how many houses do you own?”

Krause vs. CCCCs: 0-3-1

I just got the notice that neither of the proposals I was a part of was accepted at the 2009 CCCCs in San Francisco. Frankly, I’m kind of surprised because I was riding shotgun (and/or in the backseat) of a couple of different things that I thought were pretty good. One was a pre-conference workshop with Dennis Jerz, Sharon Gerald, and some other folks I don’t remember now that would have been a workshop on easy uses of free and open-source tools in first year writing classes. The second was a panel organized by Joanna Howard and it would have featured Joanna, me, Matt Barton, and Nick Carbone discussing some of the pros and cons of alternatives to the traditional textbook industry– e.g., the wikibook comp/rhet book that Matt has worked on, my The Process of Research Writing, etc.

I thought the workshop might be tricky because I’ve only been able to pull off one of those in my attempts at the CCCCs and there is always a space issue/lack of technology issue. But I thought the panel on publishing was a shoe-in shoo-in. I mean, a panel about textbook publishing, about multimedia, one that features speakers from very different kinds of schools/occupations from all over the country? What’s not to like?

On the one hand, it’s not that big of a deal for me. It’s not like I need this on my CV, and I had been mulling over in my own mind the choices/opportunities of going to the CCCCs versus going to C&W at UC Davis in late June. My meager travel (and personal) budget can afford only one trip to California this year, and while I think I would have preferred the CCCCs because I didn’t go last year and because it still is the main conference in the field, I think computers and writing is a much more fun conference. Perhaps the fam and I will find a way to make this into a visit to Ashland, OR too.

On the other hand, I am at a bit of a loss at my recent CCCCs proposal record. Between 1995 and 2007, I presented at the CCCCs eight times, was on the program for a couple different special interest groups, and was a part of one workshop. In that time, I think I had a proposal rejected once– maybe twice– and I just decided not to go to the CCCCs that was in Minneapolis (I can’t remember why now). But since 2007, my batting average has been poor to say the least. Two rejections this year, one rejection for 2008 (which was a strange one because I didn’t get the final word until well into October), and one initial rejection but then an acceptance after I appealed (I ended up giving my presentation to an audience of 3, one of whom was, if I recall, Dennis Jerz).

All I can figure is that it’s a combination of bad luck and different emphasis at the CCCCs the last few years. My CCCCs proposal for 2008 was about my on-going research on blogs, and it was rejected; I proposed something pretty darn similar for C&W in Athens, it was accepted, and it was a very well-attended panel. It’s not that the CCCCs hasn’t excluded “technology things” from its program as of late, but it would appear that in the last couple of years, they aren’t that interested in the stuff I’m proposing. For whatever reason.

Oh well, there you have it. If there are any other CCCCs losers out there who want to share their stories, feel free. Or the winners too, you bastards.

By the way, if you are curious to see who did get accepted, check out the CCCC searchable program here.

The war on terror takes on “War On Terror: The Game”

A couple months ago, I went with my friend Chris to a gaming conference for a day in Columbus. One of the many games I saw that I almost bought was War on Terror. I didn’t get it because it looked a little too expensive for me. Well, I learned via boing-boing this morning, that had I bought it, I might have had it confiscated.

War on Terror GameNot really. But at least one version the game was seized by police in the UK because the balaclava, which is the little hat thing that says “evil” on it and which is one of the satirical props of the game, could be used in a criminal act. Here’s a link to the article in the Cambridge News, and here’s the blog entry from the War On Terror boardgame web site.

Perhaps the criminal could hit someone with a snow globe. Dirty bastards.

By the way, the photo featured here comes from the WOT web site and is part of contest they’ve had for creative pictures featuring gamers wearing the evil balaclava.

Speaking of YouTube: who knew the popularity of farting videos?

I was browsing through boing-boing and came across an entry on “the original” farting preacher video:

Okay, it’s kind of funny– probably not four minutes worth of funny, but still.

And then I looked at the “related videos,” and saw that there was something like 40 related videos. It would appear that they all have the same premise: television preachers accompanied by strategically placed farting noises. And then I did a search for “farting,” and it appears this is a cottage industry on YouTube, farting noises accompanying politicians, actors, other celebs, movies, cartoons, you name it. Weird.

“An anthropological introduction to YouTube”

I’ve been kind of struggling– well, that might be too strong of a word, but I can’t think of another one right now– with what kind or kinds of readings to build into the short video project for English 328 this fall. I don’t know if this is going to be the only one or not, but I came across via Weblogg-ed Michael Wesch’s “An anthropological introduction to YouTube.”

It’s just over 55 minutes long, so obviously not a “quick view.” But if you’ve got time, it’s well worth the watching. Interesting stuff. And it will give me yet another chance to assign YouTube homework in a class.

Update:
I came across this excellent critique by Alexandra Juhasz and an exchange between Wesch about his video/project. It’s here.