Next Up!

It’s week 13. 75% of the semester is in the books!

Monday, 4/7: Last drop day for students; Erasing the Distance Performance (12:45-2pm, Rm 103);

Tuesday, 4/8: Faculty Council Meeting (3:30pm, Rm 1046); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (5:30p, Rm 323); Humanifest-OH! Field Trip: Edward Gorey Exhibit at Loyola University (5:30pm, RSVP to emccormack@ccc.edu);

Wednesday, 4/9: Les White’s Dad, Dr. Alexander White talks “Lessons from the Holocaust” (5:30-8p, Rm 1115);

Thursday, 4/10: Career Fair (10a-2p, Rm 102/103); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (11a, Rm 323); Humanifest-OH! Faculty Jazz Recital (11a, Basement!);

Friday, 4/11: SGA Leadership Conference (9:00a-4p, All Over); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (12:30p, Rm 1115);

Saturday, 4/12: Spring break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross Talk: Physics (again!)

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

Yes, yes…I’ve missed many of these, and yes, yes, I did Physics earlier, I know. But big things are afoot in the weird world of physics:

~Watch as Stanford physicist Andrei Linde learns about the discovery of supporting evidence for his Cosmic Inflation Theory. I still can’t say that that I remember a time that science made me cry, but my allergies sure did start acting up while I watched (and if you want to know a little more about what was said, some explanation is here):

~Two more explanations of the findings: one in Slate for Humanities majors and one in Wired for those not terrified of sciencey words.The upshot is that they managed to “detect a signal from the beginning of time.”

~Good chance they found “Dark Matter”, too.

~A great piece explaining a famous quantum physics experiment and the very weird findings (a.k.a., Bell’s Theorem).

~This one is probably my favorite out of these. It is a reminder that often Physics is fantastic (as in “fantasy”): “This move beyond the visible has become a fundamental part of science’s narrative. But it’s a more complicated shift than we often appreciate. Making sense of what is unseen—of what lies “beyond the light”—has a much longer history in human experience. Before science had the means to explore that realm, we had to make do with stories that became enshrined in myth and folklore. Those stories aren’t banished as science advances; they are simply reinvented. Scientists working at the forefront of the invisible will always be confronted with gaps in knowledge, understanding, and experimental capability. In the face of those limits, they draw unconsciously on the imagery of the old stories. This is a necessary part of science, and these stories can sometimes suggest genuinely productive scientific ideas. But the danger is that we will start to believe them at face value, mistaking them for theories.”

~Care for an example? How about this: “Life is a Braid in Spacetime.

~On particle smashing (for regular people).

~Probably the universe is just a simulation. Likely a hologram. Maybe some computer from the future trying to figure out how it came to be and running a Monte Carlo experiment. That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

~Science is always moving on from ideas and theories, too, as shown by this list of “science ideas ready for retirement,” as chosen by prominent scientists.

~Feynman is still the best, though. Watch this guy talk about Physics for six minutes and try to stay uninterested.There’s a whole series of them. This one was particularly fun to watch.

~And if that freaks you out, there’s always the physics of the curve ball to consider. Oh, and take heart–there aren’t any black holes after all.

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is an occasional feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Flowing Data is a “Data Visualization, Infographics, and Statistics” site that makes beautiful, fascinating pictures out of numbers. Want to see a visualization of “Where People Run” in a bunch of major cities (such as Chicago)? No problem. Want to see a poster with visualizations of famous movie quotes? No problem. Want to learn about how to make data visualizations or recognize liars or see some great ones? No problem. It’s all there.

College Night at the Goodman Theatre

Buzzer The Goodman Theater has started running a “College Night” for new plays. With $10, a student ID, and a password (see THE FLIER), students can get free pizza while talking to Goodman artists and then see a performance of the latest Goodman play.

The next one is coming up THIS WEDNESDAY, and features a play by Tracey Scott Wilson called Buzzer. It looks like another powerful play from a fantastic playwright and it’s an undeniably great deal.

Please pass the word to your students or at least print and post the flier someplace.

h/t to helpful Goodman intern, Sam Barickman for the heads up.

Weekend Reading: Super Bowl Edition

Haven’t done one of these in a while, but have managed to collect a bunch of stuff on football that might be educationally provocative or useful for someone. So here goes:

~On football intelligence; minds in context;

~If you’re a fan of North Dallas Forty or ever wondered what life was like (in terms of injuries) for NFL players , especially those on the margins, you’ll find this article by a now retired player/skilled blogger captivating; or this one about the “hard life of an NFL long shot;”

~Or maybe you’re considering boycotting the NFL or wondering why some people might–here’s one argument for it;

~One for the Bears fans–on Doug Plank, the original #46;

~Maybe a short piece of Sports Philosophy on team affiliations and adoption?;

~How the money on NFL teams is distributed across positions (a great visual graphic), including this year’s Super Bowl teams;

~Maybe you’ve been following the whole concussion controversy and want to know more–here is a fascinating article on NFL helmets and here is a piece on the concussion-related litigation and the future of the league;

~Or maybe you want to learn more about the teams playing, in which case you should check out Pro Football Reference (for an example of what can be learned with a bit of time and interest, check out this article on injuries in 2012);

~Perhaps you need to read just one more article (or five) on Richard Sherman.

Cognitive Dissonance: A Sports Story about a Transgender Woman

Cognitive Dissonance is a regular Monday feature in which a post is presented that, if read, may provoke “a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” I hope these pieces will provoke thought, if not conversation.

If you read about golf or blogs or transgender issues (or all three), you have probably seen this mix of stories unfold over the past two weeks, but if not, it is full of interesting points for discussion.

First there was a story about a putter, published on (ESPN owned) Grantland, that was then pushed out by various means to much acclaim, initially. And then a backlash began. The story, which began as an exploration of a putter and its inventor, morphs into a detective story that features the debunking of various aspects of the life of the inventor (credentials and work experience), but then becomes something else when the author finds out about the inventor’s status as a transgender woman. In the time period between the writer’s initial work on the article and its publishing, Essay Anne Vanderbilt (a.k.a., Dr. V, the inventor of the putter) committed suicide.

1) The original article is here.

2) There was a great response from Cristina Kahrl, who is a sportswriter and editor at Grantland and also a transgender woman.

3) Grantland also published an apology (with explanation) from the Editor that highlights their thinking, their process, their blindspots, and their promises.

4) There was, to be sure, also plenty of commentary about it (as here on Gawker and here from the “paper of record”).

If you only have time or interest to read ONE of these, read either #2 or #3. After that, you might want to read more, but from either you’ll get a good sense of what’s involved. And if you’re interested in reading MORE about the intersection of sports and transgender issues, check out this profile of MMA fighter Fallon Fox and what she goes through. Or this brief piece on another sportswriter who transitioned, quite publicly.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Ombudsman has published an article about the whole thing that describes it as “Understandable, Inexcusable” and runs through a lot of interesting issues from the publishing/reporting/editing side of things, as well as from the human/ethical side of things. Also, the Arizona Republic published a story that includes material gathered from interviewing Essay Anne Vanderbilt’s girlfriend and business partner.

Cognitive Dissonance: Real Education

Cognitive Dissonance is a regular Monday feature in which a post is presented that, if read, may provoke “a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” I hope these pieces will provoke thought, if not conversation.

The stories in this piece are familiar enough for most of us. By the end of it, though, the author seems to be at a loss about what to do. Which begs the question: what to do?

Things You Could (Have) Do(ne) Over Break #6: Chicago Studies Edition

So, if you’ve been a reader of this blog for awhile, you might recall that I sometimes throw up some stuff before or after breaks that you could do/could have done as here, here, here, here, and here. This is one of those.

~This piece in Wired describes the role of social media in exacerbating violence in Chicago, with the Chief Keef/Lil JoJo beef as the prime example. It’s fascinating and disturbing;

~Check out the work of documentary photographer Carlos Javier Ortiz;

~UIC faculty have authorized a strike. May 1st? More on the situation here;

~Isabel Wilkerson did a big chunk of her research for The Warmth of Other Suns at the Newberry Library;

~Chicago State administrators are trying to shut down a faculty blog. (Not that there’s anything to be critical of. Hardly a thing–remember when we used to have students who transferred there? It’s been forever since I’ve had a student who has taken classes there or intended to transfer there). They’re not alone, though. Apparently it is something of a trend as administrators at schools across the country have grown more and more concerned with “message” and their “brand.” Read it and weep for the future;

~This piece on temp agencies, raiteros, and immigrant workers was eye-opening;

~Reading about Nelson Algren’s life is almost as good as reading his work. If you are a fan of Chicago: City on the Make, or ever heard of it, you’ll enjoy this. If you aren’t, you should read one or the other and then decide;

~Columbia College got a new President last July. Speaking of Columbia, their philosopher, Steven Asma (who hired me for my very first real life classroom teaching gig back in January of 2000) wrote a book on fairness and favoritism. He writes a bit about it here;

~The Old Town Ale House is a great bar. So says Roger Ebert, and he knew some things about bars and drinking, and about other things, too–the most important things;

~College football at the University of Chicago;

~A Tribune editorial says that, “The City Colleges of Chicago may not be this area`s most prestigious institution of higher learning, but they have the potential to be one of the most important, offering education and training to vast numbers of people who don`t have the dollars, credentials or access to attend other schools. The system has seldom lived up to its potential…largely because no one outside the system cared much or paid much attention. Now, finally, there is an opportunity for real change…Chicago has a critical need to train residents for skilled work, both to help its citizens gain productive jobs and to keep and attract businesses that need competent workers. These needs can be merged and served in a revamped City Colleges of the `90s.” That’s right. The editorial is from 1991;

~Another Tribune article talks about how the City Colleges “should focus on remedial education for students who did not learn the basics in high school; instruction in English as a second language; and offerings that prepare students who plan to move on to four-year institutions.” That one was from 2000.

Cross Talk: World Language Edition

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

~You, too, could learn a language. Apparently it only takes 22 hours or so, though it should be noted that they guy who said that is a memorization expert, so mileage may vary, but still, it’s possible–especially if you learn his memory tricks and then use nifty tools like this. Who knows? You might start “Dreaming in Chinese,” which would be cool.

~A really good writer and thinker writes about the experience of learning a foreign (to him) language.

~Another one explains why he’s studying Sanskrit.

~Want to say it in a way that is “Better Than English”? Go here.

~Weirdness of languages, ranked.

~Unspeakableness is a project investigating words for emotions that are (possibly) untranslateable (more about it here).

~Naughty words mean things can be interesting, too.

~And if you don’t believe it, you should check out the history of swearing.

~Coded talk is fascinating, too. And useful.

Ahem.

UPDATE: Rendered moot in the same day! I am both impressed and grateful for our administration’s responsiveness, even as I feel somewhat guilty for putting them on blast (without warning). I wrote this on a day I was frustrated and then scheduled it and then pulled it (or so I thought), thinking that I should send some notice upstairs first. I guess I my effort to de-schedule it was inept, though, and I was somewhat surprised to find it posted today. I’m glad the manual is under review, but I am sorry that I didn’t give our hard-working administrators a chance to do something about it  before turning it into a public spectacle. That was my bad. Thanks to Don and company for the fast response.

***

Is anyone else troubled by the fact that there are no instructions for what to do in the case of a lock-down in our Emergency  Manual and that somewhere around half of the people identified as having some sort of responsibility are no longer employed at the college and that the Emergency Manuals might be some of the least user friendly documents produced by the college (at least until the new “Pathways” are released), which is saying something?

(Poor Dean Blair–his fellow escalator monitors are Cecilia Lopez, Anna Blum, and John Metoyer (p. 33). Not only that, but apparently John Wozniak is our Emergency Director!)

I know, I know…the names aren’t really that important (and, truthfully, I don’t really care about that; I’m just playing). During the last fire drill, there were plenty of monitors and help for clearing out the building; everything seemed to be working smoothly and well, for evacuations anyway. I don’t know how the “Safe Haven” card things are supposed to work for anything other than drills. I taped mine up near my door on the Tuesday before the drill and it was gone by Thursday. A few people have them up in their office windows, probably having interpreted their meaning according to the broader social and K-12 usage of the term. I just don’t see how it would all work. Maybe I’m dense.

I continue to think that the biggest dangers and threats any of us might face, as identified in a Faculty Council survey a couple of years ago, continue to exist, largely unaddressed, but I also know that a certain amount of risk is inevitable and that our risk for something awful happening is (knock on wood) low. Still, I have printed out and laminated this sign for posting in the classes that I’m teaching in. I won’t be able to lock my door from the inside on Thursday for this drill, but at least with the new biometrics system, they’ll have a way of identifying me if something goes really wrong some day.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

Awesome Literature Event: Amina Gautier Visits Monday

An invitation to you (and your classes) from Jacob Wilkenfeld (English):

A reading by award-winning fiction writer Amina Gautier, author of At-Risk (2011)  
 
Monday, October 7, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. in Room 1115
 
Dr. Amina Gautier is the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for her short story collection At-Risk.More than seventy-five of her stories have been published, appearing in Best African American Fiction, Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, North American Review, and Southern Review among other places. Her stories have won the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, the Danahy Prize, the Jack Dyer Prize, the Schlafly Microfiction Award, and the William Richey Award as well as scholarships and fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and Ucross Foundation, as well as artist grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
 
Event Sponsored by the HWC Student Government Association and the Creative Writing Club 

Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading is a regular feature with three links to fascinating, provocative, or particularly well-written, (usually) long-form pieces collected over the last three years. There will not be a test, but there may be a theme.

This one goes out to VC Pernot! Enjoy…

~Why Privacy Matters (Even If You Have Nothing to Hide)

~The Seductive Teaching Machine Model (and its history)

~What if Machiavelli Were Analyzing Higher Ed Reforms?

Oh, and one last piece of (unsolicited) advice: