I fell off the NET again—and enjoyed every minute.

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Reading with the Newf

After last semester I pretty much dropped off the Net for a couple of months (due to an unreliable home networking situation) and spent time reading printed books, hard copies of magazine subscriptions and paper newspapers. I highly recommend it. I am convinced that online reading is a different experience. I look forward to reading Naomi Baron’s latest thoughts on this.

Here are books I found well worth my having read:

  1. Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Thingspraised by several of my favorite contemporary authors David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, and Yann Martel.
  2. John Scalzi’s Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future.
  3. David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.
  4. Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.
  5. Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
  6. Andy Weir’s The Martian

I presently am finishing Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and am looking forward to reading Ann Morgan‘s The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe when it becomes available in the US in May 2015. Before then I plan to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

Tomorrow, after my classes, I’ll invite my students into my office to take any books I have read. It always pleases me to see them walk off excitedly with some pleasure reading.

What books do you recommend that I read? That I encourage my students to read?

Preparing for Bloomsday: Reasons for Reading James Joyce

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Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

I recently purchased a five-year journal and I’m using it, as a planning tool for things I want to accomplish in the next five years. Inspired by my sister-in-law who a year ago told me that she might attempt to read my late father-in-law’s copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve begun identifying “great books” which I’d like to have read in the next few years. Ulysses is on my short-list at the moment, though I vacillate on whether I should invest the time in READING it. If so, I want to finish reading it by next Bloomsday.

I just finished reading Kevin Birmingham’s excellent The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses and gained a fuller understanding of the importance of the book. I learned a lot from listening to James A. W. Heffernan’s  Great Courses lectures on Ulysses.  I have explored the James Joyce resources on Openculture.com including a recording of his reading from the book. I’ve read The Odyssey (but almost 50 years ago—perhaps I should read the critically acclaimed Fagles translation). My interest has been piqued by the virtual reality project to create an educational video game of Ulysses, and I have discovered Frank Delaney’s audio podcasts reading of the work.  I passed by the twitter edition! Perhaps I’ll attend Milwaukee’s Irishfest. I’ll definitely add in my five-year journal Ireland as one of the countries I wish to visit.

The question, now, is should I commit myself to reading Ulysses—or instead curl up with Robin the Newf and study my dog-eared copy of  Berke Breathed‘s Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989.

 

It’s about Time…

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enjoypic

It is about time to discard my invisibility cloak and return to campus. TIME is the campus -wide theme 2014-2015 for Carroll University (Waukesha, WI, USA) where I teach. Across the course of my 36 years of teaching, I have enjoyed creating special courses (‘Why War?” “Happiness” “Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools”) when I have been allowed total control over the course. Were I to offer a course on this year’s theme, I would include the following required reading and videos:

I’ve been Doing a Lot of Time Traveling Lately

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Family 19554Blog

I’ve been doing a lot of time traveling lately partly due to my bed time reading of the marvelous 900+ page paperback The Time Traveler’s Almanac.  I’m tempted to try out Mr. Peabody’s Wayback machine.

This is also the time of year where I am flooded with memories of my time at Carroll (and my (in)formative years at Oberlin College and Ohio State). And I whistle a lot while walking across campus as I process this flood of memories. Once I get the semester successfully put to bed (with fond farewells to graduates at Commencement on Sunday),  I need to turn my attention to sorting through photos, thoughts and memories in preparation for Mom’s memorial service on May 17.

Little Brother Bruce and Big Sister Connie Sue kindly sent me all the photos from Mom’s Sun City Residence. Can you pick out Connie, David, and Bruce as they looked in 1955? I wonder what we were thinking then? I think that I had gotten over my desire to run away from home because of the birth of Bruce and was trying to teach him how to read. I hadn’t yet started teasing Sis, though I may already have inadvertently locked her in the bathroom.  Here are some of the events shaping our thinking then.

I can vaguely remember some of the radio show and TV shows.  What do you remember from 1955? What would you like to remember when you are 65? 90?


Nuanced monologue: I’ve been talking to my computer a lot lately—and sometimes it talks back.

I’ve been talking a lot to my computer lately since I installed on my Mac the Mavericks Operating system.  I have been quite impressed by the dictation accuracy of Nuance’s Dragon Dictate and the degree to which I can use voice commands to control the machine.  Over the past 40 some years I have followed with interest developments in “communication” between humans and computers.  In the 60’s I interacted with Eliza, the Rogerian therapist and in the 70’s the Talking Moose resided on my early Macs—useful toys. But the capabilities of software to “read” text, translate simple conversations, and follow voice commands has dramatically improved since then and become useful in my work. What was once fiction (e.g. The Circle, 2312, Lexicon) is much closer to (dystopian) reality.  The challenge remains how to let technology be a tool controlled by (rather than controlling) me. It is easy to be seduced by the WOW factor.  .

So far I have not QUITE formed a “singular” “SIRIous”  emotional relationship with “her” nor discussed serious religious beliefs . Now, my relationship with books is another matter!