Friday, December 29, 2006


Add Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day to the list.
However, I'm still slogging my way through Mason & Dixon (just passed 100 pages) and haven't read Vineland yet.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Books

Big stack of new* books piling up over the last few weeks. Wish I had the time to read all these before the semester starts up in January. Just a quick list for now:

Melissa Gregg, Cultural Studies’ Affective Voices. Palgrave

Andrew Feenberg, Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revised. Oxford

John Lienhard, The Engines of Our Ingenuity: An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture. Oxford.

John Lienhard, How Invention Begins: Echoes of Old Voices in the Rise of New Machines. Oxford. [includes a section on the invention of the printing press; perhaps a different angle on a story told well be Elizabeth Eisenstein]

Michael Sheringham, Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present. Oxford.

Shaun Moores, Media/Theory: Thinking about Media and Communications. Routledge

Gary Hall & Clare Birchall (Eds) New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory. Edinburgh UP [OK, I have a chapter in this one on Rem Koolhaas]

Gerard Goggin, Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in Everyday Life. Routledge.

Richard Lanham, The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. Chicago.

Janne Seppanen, The Power of the Gaze: An Introduction to Visual Literacy. Peter Lang

Anandam Kavoori & Noah Arceneaux (Eds) The Cell Phone Reader: Essays in Social Transformation. Peter Lang.

Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford. [returning the library copy]

*New=I just got them, not necessarily new releases

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

High Tech Trash, Part II

Got a link to Chris Jordan's website from Anne Galloway's blog. Fascinating images, disturbing, and yet a bit too pretty in some ways.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

That accent...

What accent?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Northeast
The South
The Inland North
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Got this link from Gil, who evidently sounds "Southern" (coulda fooled me, though).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Ear Worms"

Gil has been talking about having Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man" stuck in his head the last few days. Which reminded me of a blog I never posted from last Fall. Seems appropos.

I've had Jimmy Buffet's "Come Monday" stuck in my head for going on 4+ days now, with only occasional breaks for other similarly audio-sticky songs. What was an amusement is rapidly becoming much less so. But I figured if I can infect others with the Buffet audio meme, then perhaps it will go away and leave me in peace. So enjoy.

Part of the problem was that I was just down in San Antonio, where I went to undergrad, and Jimmy Buffet tunes were standards of the various singer/songwriters on campus an the surrounding hangouts when I went to school. So the atmosphere helped maintain the presence of the tune in my head. Maybe now that I'm back in Phoenix that'll help.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Asia Culture Forum

Despite what this says above, I'm posting this on 11 Nov., 2006.

So, I made it to Korea and back. It was a great trip. I was worried because in the days before I left a cold front had come through Phoenix and my allergies had really kicked up. So I went into the trip with a sore throat &c, which is usually how I come back from trips. But I ended up feeling great.

I flew United from Phoenix to San Francisco, then San Francisco to Incheon (12 hours: I napped a bit, read some of Donald Norman's book The Invisible Computer and pieces of his Emotional Design book, and tweaked my presentation; watched "Click" on the small screen TV in the seat; drank loads and loads of green tea). My itinerary had me landing at Incheon airport then not just changing planes, or terminals, but entire airports—taking a bus to the old Gimpo airport in Seoul (which is the one we used to fly into and out of when I was a kid). I was told that the bus ride took about 30 minutes, but to allow an hour just in case. Of course, we were late leaving San Francisco, and so late into Incheon, then we taxied for EVER, and then waiting for my bags so I can go through customs. It’s late on a Friday night and I know this is the last plane down to Gwangju. I start playing with ideas of renting a car and driving through the night to get there for my morning plenary talk (though I don’t read Korean and have no idea where I would be going). An hour before my flight is to leave Gimpo I pass through customs and immigration at Incheon, head straight to the transportation desk down in the lobby (which I remember from a previous trip in 2002), get a ticket and the next thing I know I’m in the last seat on a warm, airless bus heading into Seoul. Traffic, surprisingly, is light and before I know it we’re at Gimpo. I get my boarding pass, make my way through security, and end up at the gate 10 minutes before we even start boarding.

On the flight I have a nice conversation with an orthopedic surgeon who has just been to a conference in Seoul and is heading back home. The flight is all of 35 minutes (I keep forgetting how small a country this is). Then I’m in a cab and off to the Hiddink Intercontinental Hotel (recently renamed in honor of the Korean national football team coach). I check in to my suite and the porter shows me how things work. For one thing, I have two front doors, two bathrooms, one bedroom, and a sitting room. One places the key in a slot by the door when you come in and that turns out the lights (take it out to leave and the power goes off to everything). Most of the orientation is to the three remote controls. One is for the heating unit, one is for the A/C unit, and one handles the TV and lights and some other things I never figured out.

I’m supposed to call Shin Dong Kim when I get it, but I can never figure out the phones. So I get the front desk to call him for me; he and others are at a restaurant a ways away. Since it’s quite late and I have to speak in the morning, I excuse myself from joining them, set a time to meet him for breakfast, and head up to the suite to flip through the channels and fall asleep. There is a channel devoted to the game “Go,” another which seems to be just watching someone playing a videogame, another which is dedicated to US reality TV shows, and many many others, including music videos, game shows, dramas, films.

Early the next morning I get ready and head up to the restaurant for breakfast. I thought I was to meet Shin at 7:15 but he doesn’t arrive. I chat with some other folks from the conference. By 7:50 they’re moving people to the bus to take them to the convention center, so I go along. The bus is delayed, though I don’t know why, and we arrive about 10 till 9:00 (my talk is at 9). I meet up with Shin, who says that there was a miscommunication and that he was going to take me to the convention center in a cab. Anyway, apparently the party at the restaurant had gone very late (2am or so) and so people are very slow arriving. We decide to delay my talk until we can get a decent crowd, and so get started at 9:20. I had an hour to talk, now it’s down to 40 minutes (since there’s a panel right at 10). I talk fast, editing on the fly as I try to hit the high points, and most likely frustrated the hell out of the simultaneous translators (my apologies to them, since I know that is hard work in the best of circumstances). It’s quite a pan-Asian crowd. I answered some questions, and then was done. Chatted with folks a bit more in the hall outside, especially a very eager Korean graduate student. And then talked with Shin about mobile visual technologies (he borrows a grad student’s cell phone and shows me how it can play live television). Later I get a chance to look through all the conference materials, purchase the proceedings (several volumes), and then meet up with Keehyeung Lee, who I went to grad school with. Keehyeung, Shin, and I and others get lunch in a great local restaurant housed in the convention center. Apparently Gwangju is known for its food, which was wonderful. There is a local specialty which is a very strong smelling fish, and apparently few outside that region of the country like it. I ate a piece, which took a lot of chewing, and wasn’t, uh, problematic until I was almost done, when it became pretty overpowering. But I finished it nonetheless.

Keehyeung Lee, Me, Shin Dong Kim

That afternoon I went to a couple of panels, drank coffee (since the trip was beginning to hit me), did an interview for a local news website, and then caught a bus to the city center where they had a Youth Culture night with live entertainment and really great food. Run into Kuan-Hsing Chen briefly. Talk with folks doing mobile media research. Then walk back to the hotel where Shin commandeers the dining room for beer and karaoke for conference folk. Late (and no, I didn’t sing), I call it a night and head back to my suite.

The next morning (feeling not a bit of the allergies I arrived with), Sunday, reversed the process. Breakfast in the hotel (a buffet: rice, seaweed, corn, eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, seaweed soup, kimchee, green salad, cold cereal, muffins, orange juice, coffee, tea). Then a cab to the airport, plane to Gimpo, bus to Incheon, do some last minute shopping in the airport (picked up T-shirts for the kids, a couple of tea cups for Elise, and two CDs for me: the latest Crying Nut and Rollercoaster), and then it’s a 10-hour flight back. I slept most of the way, and still managed to read Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You and watch Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in The Lake House. A Scanner Darkly was also on, but the audio quality of those headsets was such that I promised myself to rent it later since I’d miss too much of the film. The flight back corresponded with Saturday night, and so I woke up and landed early in the morning on Sunday (again) in San Francisco. Then a flight back to Phoenix. And no discernible jet lag.

Of course, then Monday evening I had to give a talk on surveillance to a community group, so little time to rest.

All in all, a quite rewarding trip. It was great to be invited and given the opportunity to present a paper. My thanks, again, to Shin Dong Kim for inviting me. Great to meet new folks, see some old friends. My paper is online at their website.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


So, last Thursday I get an email from Shin Dong Kim, a scholar in Korea who studies mobile technologies and with whom I've been corresponding, saying that he was helping run a big conference and had just lost a keynote speaker. Since the plenary topic was culture and technology, would I be interested in speaking?

Next week.

In Korea.

So I'm currently in a mad scramble. But next Thursday I wing my way to Gwangju, Korea, to give a talk called "Technological Culture" to the Asia Cultural Forum. I arrive Friday evening, speak Saturday morning, and fly back Sunday. Won't get to see much of Korea this trip (I was there for ICA and a cultural studies preconference in 2002 and lived in Seoul for 2 years growing up, back in the mid-70s), and I wish I could stay for more of the Forum, which looks fascinating. Saturday seems dedicated to panels on Asian youth culture.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gabbie, RIP

Well, we finally lost our Bichon Frise, the 16-year old irrepressible Gabrielle Button Woodstock ("Gabbie" or "Gabs"). She's been in declining health these last six months or so, sleeping more and losing weight. She finally went into kidney failure last week and died today (10/11/06). She will be sorely missed.

Gabbie has been part of our family since we lived in Illinois. She was the dog of a vet Elise's parents knew in Texas. The vet died, his widow couldn't care for Gabby, so Elise's mom babysat Gabs a lot. We brought her up to Illinois to find someone to adopt her (we knew someone who did pet adoptions) but she ended up taking over our house and never left. She's lived also in South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona.

Bichons have a wonderful character. Often mistaken for frou-frou Fifi type dogs (especially since they can be groomed to be all fluffy snowballs) they are also scrappy little dogs with street smarts. Historically they're from the Canary Islands, used to be traded by Spanish sailors apparently. They ended up as court dogs for royalty (appearing in royal portraits) and later lost favor, becoming European street dogs before the breed was brought back. Which kinda sums up a bichon's personality: part royal lap dog, part streetwise, part "hello sailor," and very intelligent.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book Award

"Culture and Technology" just won the Book Award for the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association!

Woo hoo!


Monday, October 09, 2006

New STS Stuff

Interesting new books seem to come in threes...

Recently across my desk (I'll put in links later if I get the chance):

Wenda K. Bauchspies, Jennifer Croissant, & Sal Restivo (2006) Science, Technology, and Society: A Sociological Approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

David Bell (2006). Science, Technology, and Culture. NY: Open University Press.

Mike Michael (2006). Technoscience and Everyday Life: The Complex Simplicities of the Mundane. NY: Open University Press.

The first two are more obviously intro/textbooky kind of things. The latter less directly so.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I made paper (dammit!)
OK, so this isn't headline news, or perhaps that unusual an occurrence. It certainly lacks the profound political and cultural significance of, say, Gandhi making salt. But it's something.

This whole exercise (which Catherine helped me with; the pulp she referred to as "double ewwww!") comes under the "Old Media" theme which may crop up from time to time here. I have an interest in old media. But that doesn't mean that I'll be curing sheep skins or hammering woven reeds flat any time soon. Indeed, I'm avoiding the full-on "artisanal" aspects of papermaking. With a couple of how-to books from the library tucked under my arm (with a tip of the hat to Jennifer Slack and her colleague for some references) I called the main art store in town asking if they had papermaking frames. They sort of scoffed, hinting that real papermakers construct their own down at the hardware store. So I ended up at Michaels picking up a pre-made screen (like I'm going to spend the afternoon making a frame; I don't even have time to blog!). Actually making basic paper (and this stuff I'm cranking out is as thick and ungainly as they come) is fairly easy and kinda fun.

What instigated this is my long-term love of old books (if I ever win the lottery, or if Peter Jackson options Culture and Technology for his next trilogy of films, I'd probably end up apprenticed to some book-making and repair endeavor), but the current impetus was the announcement this summer that Phoenix no longer accepts shredded paper in its recycling program (mucks up the machinery). Given that people are shredding everything these days (as they should) that means lots of perfectly recyclable paper heading back to the landfills. So this first effort was from the home shredder. A nice lavender it turned out, eh?

Next, on to figure out sizing, which is how to make paper that one can write on with ink, otherwise it's like blotter paper; and how to de-acidify it a bit so it won't brown and crumble like newspaper.

For those interested (and I doubt anyone's made it this far down the post anyway), I ended up with Arnold Grummer's Dip Handmold which comes with the frame (a "deckle"), papermaking screen, a cover screen, and a support grid. One also needs a wide basin, a blender, a bunch of towels and sponges, a cookie sheet, an iron and an ironing board. Oh, and a large heavy book wrapped in plastic (a "press bar") to smush the paper flat [I'm using Smolan, Moffitt, & Naythons "The Power to Heal: Ancient Arts and Modern Medicine," which I pulled off the shelf because it was big, heavy, and handy, though I'm sure the cultural studies doorstop would work just as well].

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Crying Nut

Crying Nut has been one of the leading punk bands out of South Korea since they were formed in the mid-1990s. They are perhaps the only punk band in the world to have to go on hiatus for a couple of years while band members fulfilled their national compulsory military service. They just reformed last year and released their 5th album this summer.

Myungdong Calling

Rainbow Romance (covers, or at least borrows heavily from, a possibly familiar song)

Riding a Horse (live in a club setting)

Monday, September 04, 2006

the "home" essay

Back in 2000 I published a little essay called "Home: Territory and Identity" in Cultural Studies. It's an essay I've always liked because in some ways I wrote it by feel, about a feeling of space and place, and the prose has its own particular rhythms and character. It was expanded, corrected, and republished in Jennifer Slack's (2003) collection Animations (of Deleuze and Guattari)--there were some typesetting issues with the original Cultural Studies version which made it more difficult to follow (and changed meaning in places), and so I tend to prefer the latter.

It's always interesting to see if, and how, an essay gets cited. I don't obsessively track these things, but since I like this essay I've been a bit more attentive, especially since it's popping up in such a fascinating variety of places. It's sort of like dropping a pebble in a pond, watching the ripples, and seeing reflected ripples back from myriad and sundry other objects. It's this strange itinerary that I find curious, interesting, surprising. From what I can tell it has been mentioned in pieces on Deleuzian philosophy, digital media, family photographs, welfare reform, children's literature, people with psychiatric disabilities living in public housing, virtual diasporas, landscapes of everyday life, design theory (it's actually being extracted in an forthcoming design theory reader), and at least one art installation. The latest to crop up, the impulse behind this blog entry, is a citation in Behavioral Brain Research which is, to put it prosaicly, about watching gerbils wandering around in the dark in a strange place (that is, how they map and orient themselves to an unknown territory through wandering in loops and establishing a "home base.") I really don't have much to say about this, just noting my curiousity, interest, and surprise at the ways these things have a life of their own (the essay, that is, not the gerbils, though they do, too).

high tech trash

Just ran across the following book in the local library; haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks significantly depressing.

Elizabeth Grossman, High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxins, and Human Health (2006, Island Press).

It overviews how toxic a wired world is and brings together a number of issues which we often hear about separately: toxic mining, toxicity of manufacturing computers and digital devices, toxicity of these devices when we throw them away (heavy metals, lead, a variety of plastics), the export of e-trash to the third world, etc.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Just went to a Jasper Fforde reading/book signing last Tuesday night, which was enjoyable. I'm currently bogged down in the third of the Thursday Next series (The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots). Though I picked it up again this afternoon and hit the chapter where all the characters of Wuthering Heights undergo anger management counseling, and am enjoying it again. Fforde was reading from his most recent book, which is the second in another series, The Nursery Crime series. This meant I had to buy the first book in the series and the latest (which was in hardcover), but I got him to also sign my cloth bound copy of Lost in a Good Book (which had been slightly nibbled by my Scottie). The Nursery Crime series consists of The Big Over-Easy (a murder mystery, arguing that Humpty Dumpty was murdered) and The Fourth Bear (about the mystery surrounding the three bears and a missing reporter, "Goldy").

Also currently teetering on the nightstand:

Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter
Steven Johnson, Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
Neal Stephenson, The Confusion (seriously bogged down halfway through this, the second volume of the Baroque Cycle series. Halfway in, at page 459).
Michael Farr, TinTin: The Complete Companion

[revision: oh, and Gerard DeGroot, The Bomb: a Life]

If I had time to blog, I'd provide more links.


Sun was behind an approaching thunderhead. I liked the colors and am glad they showed up when I took the pictures. I suspect there's some technical name for this (besides rainbow, which it's not really).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I Like Jazz!

Apparently, white people like jazz!

Or at least, white people from Central Casting like jazz.

Elise ran across this album in a bargain bin in a coffee shop the other day; I was just struck by the complete absence of anyone of color on the cover. The purpose of the album seems to be to educate/market jazz to mainstream audiences. The back cover has a long history of jazz and its variations ("From the music of the churches and fields, the American Negro developed the blues...") and the selections are meant to be a survey of these types. It includes performances by Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Condon, Bix Beiderbecke, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, and Dave Brubeck (among others). I believe the album is from 1955 (side question: why is it so hard to find a date on LPs?), it's Columbia Records, JZ 1.

[Jeez! Time to paint the baseboards, eh?]

Monday, July 31, 2006

Old Media

My most recent in a series of purchases (e.g., collecting) of old media. This is a TV/radio/turntable console from the mid-1950s. It still works (and came complete with a really scratched up old 45 of CCR's "Run Through the Jungle"). Everytime I turn on the black and white TV there's a moment when, as the tubes warm up, I secretly hope that the picture that will slowly fade in will be of some late 50's TV show, appropos of the medium. But alas, it's the same old stuff that's on the other TV. Sigh.

Anyway, it's a Magnavox MV174 L1. Trying to track down a production date, but unsuccessful so far. Magnavox (now owned by Phillips), is no use ("We no longer support that product"--duh!) and nothing's turning up via google. If anyone has an idea of how to track down this info (oddly, the term "incept dates" comes to mind, but that's from Blade Runner...), let me know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Book Meme

A book meme that's going around. This is courtesy of Jonathan Sterne.

1. Chose the book closest to you at the moment.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the 3rd sentence
4. Post in your blog (plus the instructions)
5. Don't choose the book, just pick up the one closest to you.

Hmmmm...lots of stacks of papers. Closest books are over on a shelf. The closest book (de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince") doesn't have enough pages. Next closest is it, then:

"The days went by."
Elizabeth Enright, The Four-Story Mistake, NY: Puffin Books, 1997 (1942).

Not as interesting as Book-Most-Recently-Read (which goes against the rules of the meme, but interesting nonetheless), which would give us:

"They met in private and Addis told him, 'You [Oppenheimer] are giving all this money [for the Spanish Republic cause] through these relief organizations. If you want it to do good, let it go through the Communist channels...and it will really help.'"
Kai Bird & Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. NY: Vintage, 2005.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

LP Records

I recently inherited my folks collection of LPs since they weren't listening to them anymore (don't even have their turntable hooked up). I've been getting my turntable back into shape, new needle and everything (apparently the cartridge and needle installed on the turntable had been discontinued 15 years ago--time for a new needle!). I'm not an audio analog purist, I just like the ritual of playing LPs. Anyway, I've been listening to Dusty Springfield's "Dusty in Memphis." I could say loads about how wonderful the album is, but actually wanted to comment on the inner sleeve. On one side it has recent releases from Columbia Records (Jerry Vale, Johnny Mathis, Ray Conniff...) and on the other this interesting list arguing why you should purchase records.

1. They're Your Best Entertainment Buy. Records give you top quality for less money than any other recorded form. Every album is a show in itself. And once you've paid the price of admission, you can hear it over and over.

2. They Allow Selectivity of Songs and Tracks. With records it's easy to pick out the songs you want to play, or to play again a particular song or side. All you have to do is lift the tone arm and place it where you want it. You can't do this easily with anything but a phonograph record.

3. They're convenient and easy to handle. With the long-playing record you get what you want to hear, when you want to hear it. Everybody's familiar with records, too. And you can go anywhere with them because they're light and don't take up space.

4. They're attractive, informative and easy to store. Record albums are never out of place. Because of the aesthetic appeal of the jacket design, they're beautifully at home in any living room or library. They've also got important information on the backs--about the artists, about the performances or about the program. And because they're flat and not bulky, you can store hundreds in a minimum of space and still see every title.

5. They'll give you hours of continuous and uninterrupted pleasure. Just stack them up on your automatic changer and relax.

6. They're the proven medium. Long-playing phonograph records look the same way now as when they were introduced in 1948, but there's a world of difference. Countless refinements and developments have been made to perfect the long-playing record's technical excellence and insure the best in sound reproduction and quality.

7. If it's in recorded form, you know it'll be available on records. Everything's on long-playing records these days...your favorite artists, shows, comedy, movie sound tracks, concerts, drama, documented history, educational name it. This is not so with any other kind of recording.

8. They make a great gift because everyone you know loves music. And everyone owns a phonograph because it's the musical instrument everyone knows how to play. Records are a gift that says a lot to the person you're giving them to. And they keep on remembering.

Now, such a list has some humor in the age of CD's and MP3s (selectivity? They're light and portable?), but what's interesting to me in this is why in 1969 Columbia/Atlantic feels a need to make such a hard sell for the medium itself. If everyone owns a phonograph, why argue the virtues of records at such length? Was the market leveling off? Competition from a new format? Curious.


Taking a stab at blogging, years behind the curve. Given the title of said blog, don't expect too many posts. Definitely an occasional sort of thing, random thoughts, some about work, writing, ideas, some about life. We'll see how this goes.