9.29.2008

Eco Fur?

From a link in the Seattle Times, Eco-Luxury Fur: a company claiming that wearing expensive furs is beneficial to the environment.


The hype-text on the website reads:



"[W]ithout any of the negatives often associated with fine furs." Huh? I can think of a few.

And this passage from the Independent:

"Fur is sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable," says Hutchings, who then goes on to argue that possum fur is a special case. "These animals would be killed anyhow, and the way the government does it is inhumane." Currently, the New Zealand government sprays pellets of poisonous sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) over large areas. "The animal is left out in the wild to rot, which can be a source of secondary poisoning, and there can be collateral poisoning if other animals eat the pellets," says Hutchings. Her possums are killed within 10 seconds using cyanide, or are trapped. The fur is processed without the use of artificial colours or preservatives, and made into cushions or throws that cost $200 (£112) for a cushion and $3,400 (£1,900) for a bedspread. "That the fur is ecologically compelling is icing on the cake. It feels luxurious and looks incredible," continues Hutchings, who thinks her throws can help climate change. Possum fur is the third warmest in the world, so snuggling under one of these bedspreads allows you to turn the thermostat down.


When I first heard of EcoTimber back in 1994, I got a bit worried that "eco" was being too widely affixed to things that weren't, but this "wear fur, help the environment" claim is just too much. Exterminating/managing an overly abundant invasive population is one thing; wearing the bodies of the creatures in order to participate in the historical luxuries of fur is another.

More on Political Speech

If you're anywhere near UIUC, you prolly know already that employees of the U are required to keep their political views secreted away while at work. The other day, I posted this little chart which was sent to me through campus mail:



On my run, it occurred to me that all of the following are kosher, following this little table-graphic:

  • wearing a pin or t-shirt in support of the Green party
  • wearing a pin or t-shirt that reads "I'm voting for Trotsky!"
  • wearing a pin or t-shirt that reads "Vote for O'Bhamma"


Many work arounds exist, methinks, for those eager to embody their politics this election season.

9.23.2008

Bad Directions

I found this bad set of directions this morning on the walk in:



Why bad? While I generally prefer hand-written directions to the GoogleMapsified and MapQuestian varieties, these directions result in a route that looks like this:



That's right, with the jog up Neil in the middle, the traveler ends up making two extra turns and even cutting back to the east the tiniest bit. The following would be a much more efficient route to a N. Prospect destination:



Sometimes you find things, and they're just wrong. Which is why we have the Found Innitiative: to set things straight in this world.

9.19.2008

No Pins Allowed

I'm not a big pin wearer, so it is with relief that I see I won't be in violation of the law prohibiting political activity in my workplace:

9.16.2008

Newberry Library Gig

The description of my seminar up at the Newberry Library is online and reads:


Graphic Novels in the Language Arts Classroom
Spencer Schaffner, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
10/14/2008
One of the key challenges in teaching graphic narratives is convincing readers that a text that looks every bit like a simple comic requires more than minimal analysis and critical reading. Thoroughly understanding a graphic narrative means developing literacies that make sense of both visual and textual elements on a page. Certainly some of the most popular graphic narratives in recent years like Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis require such skills. This seminar will include an overview of the graphic narratives currently available to readers, focused readings of specific texts, description of resources for teaching graphic narratives, and discussion of what kinds of activities work best when teaching graphic narratives. Our goal will be to develop both reading strategies and inventive activities for teaching


It will be fun.

9.15.2008

David Foster Wallace Dead

First shock to see that David Foster Wallace has killed himself with a length of rope, but then not really surprise, because he seemed pretty tortured. I only saw him read once, in Portland, and it was a spectacle: on stage with Sherman Alexie and a few other current notables, DFW was grubby and expectorating into a can the whole time. He looked pained. He evaded questions.



I once rode a ferry with a dude who said he didn't read the works of authors who had killed themselves. I scanned quickly and came up with a few favorites of mine who did: Virginia Woolf, Hemingway, Plath ... thought to myself "Why rule them out, just 'cause of that?"

But now, with DFW taking himself out of the game, I'm a bit bitter and unwilling to pick up one of the more current volumes that I have yet to read. But maybe I will. I mean, Broom of the System was not my favorite, but I really really liked the footnotes in Infinite Jest. Like really liked them. And the tennis stuff. And the ending.

UPDATE: I now see that it is becoming seen as clever to begin obits for DFW in a pseudo-David-Foster-Wallacian way. The one from the Washington Post reads:

In the footnotes of the brief life of David Foster Wallace, a reader might discover that in addition to penning one of the seminal novels of the latter 20th century, and in addition to trademarking a dizzying writing style populated with parentheticals and those brilliant footnotes, and in addition to becoming a symbol of pop culture and intelligentsia for a large segment of Generation X, the "Infinite Jest" author lived for a time in Normal, Ill.


And from the NYT:

David Foster Wallace, whose darkly ironic novels, essays and short stories garnered him a large following and made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, was found dead in his California home on Friday, after apparently committing suicide, the authorities said.


Kind of cheesy, but I think he'd giggle.

By Jove

From PG, a link to a video sharing site ("Jove") for scientists to post videos about their experiments (and some text).

9.12.2008

Found Friday

Found in Urbana on the walk in to campus. Rubber band, plastic bag, plastic skateboard, repentance.

9.11.2008

Bounty Hunting

For the past few weeks, I've been tracking down some articles on Alaska's former bounty on Bald Eagles, which makes it sort of odd to see the recent press emerge on Palin's sponsorship of aerial "predator" control programs. From the Seattle PI

Predator control. Palin approved and expanded the state's aerial predator control program, where wolves are shot from aircraft and bears hunted from aircraft and killed upon landing. This year, her state biologists even dragged 14 newborn wolf pups from their den and, having already shot their parents, then shot each of the pups in the head at close range. Last year, her administration offered a $150 bounty for each wolf killed until the bounty was ruled illegal by the courts. Hundreds of wolves are killed each year by this antiquated state program that has no scientific justification whatsoever, but rather is designed to appease Palin's urban sport hunter supporters.


Google pulls up many more pieces relating to this here.

9.01.2008

Prank: Chancellor Condemns the Greek System

I wish I could say "Go Herman!" but can't. A prank email on campus.

Dear Students,

Many of you may be aware of an event known as Rush. It is my objective to warn you of the potential downsides of Greek organizations. I advise you to not succumb to the aggressive recruitment tactics used by these organizations. It has been my concern over the years, that the Greek culture of alcoholism and lack of respect for the community degrades campus life. These organizations present themselves as prestigious, yet are discriminatory, serve to perpetuate social inequality, especially with
respect to the opposite gender, and promote a lack of diversity. Many students have expressed concerns with regards to safety on campus,particularly due to Greek culture and behavior. It is my hope that a student's experience on campus strengthens one's individuality, but the Greek system emphasizes the group above all, without cause or reason. This is detrimental to the purpose of universities.

I hope that you will consider wisely.

GDI Chancellor Richard Herman


Update: Follow-up email from the Head Office using a lot of ands instead of commas.

Dear members of the campus community:

You may have received an email titled: Regarding Greek life on campus. This message was a hoax and was NOT sent by Chancellor Richard Herman and was NOT authorized by the campus administration.

Robin Kaler
Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs

This mailing approved by: The Office of the Chancellor