Adios, Incarnati

Gee, with finals week and all, I totally missed Tuesday’s story in the Ann Arbor News that EMU Board of Regents member Philip Incarnati is now the former chairman of the board. To quote from the opening paragraphs of the article:

Citing increased responsibilities at work, Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents Chairman Philip Incarnati has decided to step down as board chairman.

Incarnati, who led the board during the approval and construction of the controversial University House project, will remain a regent until his term ends in 2010.

In a letter to board members Monday, he cited an increasing workload as chairman and chief executive officer of McLaren Health Care Corp. of Flint as his chief reason for resigning.

Huh. Well, if you believe all that, I have a president’s house to sell you.

Anyway, I think today’s Ann Arbor News editorial sums up my thoughts on the whole matter. To quote:

Incarnati’s stone-cold contempt for public accountability dragged the painful episode out much longer than was needed, and his silence (except for a written statement to other board members) continues as he nestles into a spot out of the limelight.

Ideally, Incarnati should have given up his seat on the board as well as his leadership post. But his script continues the face-saving that was so important as Kirkpatrick left campus, armed with an agreement that the regents would not criticize him. And, in return, he would be mum about them.

Thoughts at the end… (part 4 and the last one, at least for this particular end)

This afternoon, I wrapped up the grading for my last class of the term, Writing Research, Theory and Practice. I have to say was one the best teaching experiences I’ve had in a long long time. This is the graduate course our MA students take toward the end of their program of study as they are preparing to work on their MA project or thesis.

For reasons that are too complicated to explain, I only had five students. Usually, I don’t like classes that are this small, but this was a great group. I thought the way I put this class together worked out too, and I’ll probably do something similar when (or if, I suppose) I teach this course again in a year or so. But to be honest, what really made the difference is we met at Bombadill’s, which is a cafe/coffee shop in downtown Ypsilanti. It’s a great place, and meeting there beat the hell out of meeting in Pray-Harrold, which is one of the worst academic buildings on the planet.

Anyway, I won’t be blaring Alice Cooper out the window anytime soon because I start teaching in spring term (which is what they call the first half of summer school around here) on Monday, May 2. I don’t know who planned this schedule, but I really think that everyone needs more than one week between terms. But I digress.

But it is still the end of the year– the school year, that is– nonetheless. Here’s a brief reflection on it:

  • Things got off to a rocky start in late August with “fun” with the EMU-AAUP, for which I was once the web site manager, and a faculty strike that lasted about 7 hours. Incidentally, the union’s web site hasn’t been updated since January.
  • This election thing back in November that didn’t turn out quite the way I’d hoped.
  • I went to MLA, and really REALLY enjoyed the eating in Philly.
  • I tried and failed to use WebCT (we’ll see about eCollege, the software I’ll be working with to teach an online class in the Fall).
  • I really thought I was going to end up moving away from EMU, but I’m glad to say that my wife and I are staying.
  • I had a great time at the CCCCs in San Francisco, though I didn’t eat as well as I did in Philadelphia.
  • Realizing that I will likely be here for the next 30 or so years, I decided to move books into my office at EMU. I had some books before, but I had a lot more toys and miscellaneous hunks of junk. I’m hoping to post a new photo of my school digs soon.

This summer promises to be busy with teaching and a big push on finally wrapping up a long-standing textbook project (keep various things crossed). But in the short-term, I think I’m going to try to plow through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy before the movie opening on Friday.

HTML and CSS together… perhaps a book that makes sense?

A colleague of mine with a real job alerted me to a book called Integrated HTML and CSS: A Smarter, Faster Way to Learn by Virginia Debolt that he said looks interesting. The description on amazon.com makes it sound pretty cool too; maybe if I end up teaching a version of Writing for the World Wide Web next year….

"Essential bookmarks for web designers and web developers"

Check out this list of “Essential bookmarks for web designers and web developers.” I don’t really have time right now to see if it really is all that “essential” for the likes of me, but I am more than willing to let this guy maintain this handy list of links instead of me. Or at least I’m willing to link to his list of links….

Television: a study in contrasts

This morning, I surfed over to Jeff Rice’s blog and read this entry called “Media Mind,” which is a reflection on a New York Times Magazine essay by Steve Johnson called “TV Makes You Smarter.” Here’s a relevant paragraph from that article, one that makes me think it might make for a good reading assignment in the class I teach called “Writing, Style, and Technology:”

But another kind of televised intelligence is on the rise. Think of the cognitive benefits conventionally ascribed to reading: attention, patience, retention, the parsing of narrative threads. Over the last half-century, programming on TV has increased the demands it places on precisely these mental faculties. This growing complexity involves three primary elements: multiple threading, flashing arrows and social networks.

In other words, not all television is crappy, and I think this has always been the case, actually.

Anyway, on my way back from the gym (where, among other things, I walked/jogged on a treadmill while watching TV), I heard this BBC News story on Michigan Public Radio about an organization called White Dot that is claiming this as turn your TV off week. It was the usual “TV is bad for you” story, but with an interesting twist. As the White Dot web site makes clear, this organization wants folks to turn off TVs that are invading public spaces (bars, pubs, cafes, etc.), and they want them to use this universal remote device to do it. To quote from their web site:

At EuroDisney, before they can see “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”, visitors are ushered into a dark, carpeted room to wait for the next show to begin. Stuck there, with nowhere to go, they are forced to watch Kodak commercials on long banks of televisions. Standing in line at Disneyland is now a business all in itself. And these visitors, who’ve already paid their money, are now the perfect captive audience.

Luckily, on the day I was there with my young daughter, I had a prototype of the TV-B-Gone universal TV off switch. Very slowly, I pulled it out of my bag and aimed it up at the nearest television. I pressed the button and my mouth fell open. The entire bank of TVs on my side of the room had gone black.

“Man,” I thought “the future starts now!”

First off, if you go to a place like EuroDisney and are steamed about how you are constantly being bombarded by media messages and commercials, I think the televisions you are forced to watch while waiting in line are the least of your problems.

Second, there are plenty of places to go where you can enjoy a “TV Free” environment in public. I can’t think of a coffee shop that I go to that has a television, and while I go to plenty of restaurants and bars that have TVs, most of those places have areas where you can sit and be pretty much away from TV.

Third, it seems to me that going into a crowded bar and messing with the TV with this TV Be Gone device (during a Pistons playoff game, for example) is a way to get yourself a good ass-whoppin’. And that’s the thing: while these White Dot people see a TV in a bar as an invasion of their precisious personal space, most of the people in the bar are there to be a part of a community experience, one that involves watching a sporting event on TV.

Personally, the whole argument is pretty irrelevant to me right now. I used to watch quite a bit more TV than I do now, but I think I have more or less passed out of the demographic for “ideal” television viewer. Nowadays, I mostly watch the Food Network, Comedy Central, network news, and CNN. I watch stuff on HBO once in a while (Six Feet Under, for example), but I think I can count on one hand the number of network shows I watch on an even remotely regular basis.

Just don’t use that TV Be Gone thing on me….

CFP: Computers and Writing Online

This is old news (it showed up on Kairosnews a week ago), but check out the CFP for Computers and Writing Online anyway. Proposals are due on May 2, which means this might be a good opportunity for graduate students or even “go-getter” undergrads to participate in a version of an academic conference without having to put up the money (fees, travel, etc.).

One of the other innovations here is that C&W online is going to be hosted via the Kairosnews blog space; another example of how blogs have a lot of potential and promise for the kind of scholarly work we do in person and/or in print now.