BackCommenting, or Stay Out of Juvey

I wouldn't want this (buried) comment to go unnoticed, so I place it here at the top of the blog.

It was made today but responds to this post from last July, and in that sense I guess it's a backcomment. (An aside: the images from that post show up on the first page if you do a simple Google image search for skateboarding, hence the traffic.)

"Cool i love skateboarding i have a skatepark that says no skateboarding... :/!! i spray paited that all black and wrote skateeboarding ruleZ! then i got caught do it to other signs and went to juvey.. lol"

Blogs are weird in supporting commenting on buried posts; a select few of my older posts (mainly the ones about sk8ing, I confess) get daily traffic and sometimes comments (like this one). I tend to think of comments as only really postable when they refer to posts from the last, say, week, but clearly this is not the deal. Or is it that backcommenters don't realize they're posting a sticky note on old bread? Or does juvey have something to do with it?

The mystery of my weekend.


Found Friday Goes Epistolary

Dear Reader,

I was going to post about this piece dealing with the SAT writing test (the article is over at Insider Higher Ed), and I was going to post about my students' brilliant cheat sheets, but Found Friday calls!

If I didn't have two proposals and a stack of midterms to grade, I might say a few things about these foundlings ... but I leave the reflection up to you.

Have a good weekend!


Spel With Flickr

This little tool will help you spel with Flickr, and with one click on the images it pulls up, you can sort for a whole nother set.


Navigational Directions

I found this rather distressed set of navigational directions on the walk in this morning.

Plugged into the Gmaps-Pedometer, the route looks like this, prompting the response:

OMG! Why turn on Market?! Just go to Neil and take a right!!


Academia's Geographic Diasporic Mechanism

I found out early on that higher education had a built-in geographic diasporic mechanism when my older sister went off to college in California, then my other older sister went off to graduate school in DC. I eventually followed them (though in different directions) in pursuit of far-off degrees, repeatedly moving away from friends and family in search of institutional affiliations of one kind or another.

This time of year is the hardest, in many ways, as colleagues and graduate students start announcing that they'll be moving on. Even though the goal, as some see it, of graduate education is to move on at some point, it's still a bummer to see great people go.

I got good news today, though: two of my good buds and colleagues here at UIUC have decided to stay around despite glorious job offers, and given the power of the geographic diasporic mechanism, I'm both surprised and happy. Of course, other cool and interesting people will inevitably head out, finding new places to do the work of academia. And while I think this is okay, sometimes I wish we could figure out a way for rootlessness to be less definitive of academic culture.


Found Friday: Lost Dog Poster

Spring Break means that I'm away from the growing pile of foundlings that need to be processed and put online as part of the federally funded Found Friday Archive Project (grant #39595-fnd-objts-9686). Fortunately, though, I do have a mini-pile of foundlings in a corner of the house, one of which I present today.

From a recent walk, Found Friday brings you this lost dog poster. And no, I did not pull it off a post; the poster was fluttering about in a gutter. The handwriting betrays such frenetic desperation! I find these really sad. :(

In case you haven't seen it, Princeton Architectural Press put out an entire book dedicated to this genre. I totally love the book and have used it in classes to talk about vernacular genres in everyday life. There are even more examples of these sad pleas on Flickr.


Super-Sizing Those Punctuation Marks

You've probably seen it, because it's been circulating quite a bit among folks who talk about the teaching of writing (does that define you? maybe not ...). Anyway, it goes like this: a simple self-help video about how to make an essay or report longer (in MS Word) by changing the font size of punctuation marks. Though the author doesn't mention this, the hack works because MS Word characters involve not just the "inked" part that you see, but the line height as well.

Paper Tip/Trick - Click Here for more great videos and pictures!

Of course, teachers who are freaked out by this kind of stuff can simply get student papers or copies of them electronically and then easily correct for these kinds of hacks. (Select all, change font and font size, fix character spacing, and tweak margins.)

But what I prefer to do is not specify a paper length at all. This invariably freaks students out, as they're generally used to being told how many pages to write, but I still find it to be worthwhile in that it enables us to talk about what students should write, and how they should write it, not how much they should write.

With that said, I'm teaching a class next year with "25 pages of written work" specified in the requirements. For students in that class or others with length requirements, I offer this list of four simple ways, in addition to super-sizing punctuation marks, to make your paper longer.

Four More Ways to Make a Paper Longer
→ have and then add more of your own ideas
→ talk about other people's ideas more
→ add more examples
→ discuss those examples

Is that so hard?


Found Friday Strikes Back!

I know it's a day early again, but Found Friday is on the mic!

One of the many benefits of working on a federally funded project such as Found Friday is that we can afford to fund researchers as far away as ... Denver! From that mile-high position, Amy V sends in this remarkable text (shrink-wrapped to spec, of course). I should note that it measures roughly 24x36 inches. Per usual: click on the image to make it larger than it appears in the mirror.



On this temperate Pi Day (3.14, get it?), I have to admit that I'm having trouble waiting to post this week's Found Friday entry. It's a doozy sent in from out of state. But wait I will!

On the plate today: grading meta five-paragraph essays and writing a midterm that students in my Composition Theory and Practice course will be creating cheat sheets for to clandestinely use during the exam.


"Forced to Write"

I've been passively tracking the use of the collocational phrase "forced to write" for some months now, and today a range of news sources just happen to use it in some of the more interesting ways. (Interesting to me, that is.)

From Organizer.org, this example of an individual being forced to write a text with a particular message:
"One person arrested, named Bacchu Mondal was forced to write after custodial torture that he out of his own will had immersed the Holy Deity. After that the police itself did the act of immersion."

From Cybernoon.com, a message said to be more generally coerced out of a new agency:
"That the Prime Minister’s Office has not so far taken any cognizance of the matter comes as a surprise. Even more surprising is that the Congress party seems unaware of what is going on in Andhra Pradesh. Muzzling the media seems to be the order of the day that even ‘The Times of India’, usually a defender of the Establishment was forced to write a strong editorial (January 8, 2007) against the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that said that “there is no place in an open society for a ministry that muzzles the media by laying down draconian, and often ludicruous, guidelines”."

At Screendaily.com, reference to the film Memento in which the character "Chris is forced to write everything down to make sense of the most mundane activities of daily life." In this sense, faulty memory forces us to keep track through writing.

Ifaonline Media has a piece describing a situation that compels a certain form of writing:
"NU has in the past received serious criticism from financial advisers and customers about the quality of its administration handling – more specifically in 2005 when the firm was forced to write to advisers about the quality of its admin - in part because of the huge number of legacy systems the firm has to manage and integrate."

What I've been looking for are recent news articles about students being forced to write lines, but the single most common use of the phrase "forced to write" in the news media has to do with accounting: being forced to write off debt—that kind of thing.


Found Friday on Reading the Bible

Thanks to the astounding finding skills of DF, Found Friday brings you the following embodied reading mnemonic tool for approaching the bible. Numbered fingers correspond with "hear, read, study, etc." If we all had six fingers, maybe it would go to ... "question"?

Also on the topic of reading the bible, in blue are some reading notes I pulled out of a dumpster in December.


Some Call it The Bird

Because I have a certain affinity for both birds and quick-reference texts, GD once gave me a copy of the clever Field Guide to the North American Bird which, as you can tell from the cover (below), has nothing at all to do with birds. Instead, it's all about flipping people off/giving them the finger/flipping the bird.

As the recent discussion about Unofficial (read: our local anti-scholastic-campus-booze-fest) on this blog precipitated some discussion of how to perform the flip-off/middle-finger gesture, I feel I should say that, in my experience, I've seen this fuck-you gesture performed four ways:

1. with finger prominent and other fingers held back
2. with finger prominent and fingers rotated forward
3. with finger prominent, fingers rotated forward, and thumb extended
4. one of above ways but using middle finger to point at the recipient of said gesture.

Number 4 is particularly intense and not covered in Blank, Blank, and Moore's guide.

This Google.image.set gives a pretty good roundup of middle-finger-variation. This Flickr.set does as well. My favorite by far is this one:


Shutdown Day

In the mode of buy nothing day, Shutdown Day: a logo (referencing the power button) and a video. I'm not making any promises ...


It's Official

Walked around some in the Freezing Cold scouting for Unofficial St. Patrick's Day nuttiness. Found some. As in, it's astonishing how drunk people can get by 1:00 p.m. on a school day.

Took a bunch of pics, but in the end, this one says it all:

Counts as Clever