Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Columbia report


This is gripping, horrifying, and tragic. It's the final report on the spaceshuttle Columbia's catastrophic re-entry in 2003, complete with acronyms (CMCE: Crew Module Catastrophic Event). In some ways its coldness and technicality is a way of respecting the privacy of the deceased [a number of redacted sections at the end also keep personal details private]. But its second by second account has an inexorable fatalism, watching a disaster unfold in slow motion (watching technology fail) knowing there's nothing you can do. In the end the crew didn't suffer. But man, reading this really hits me hard.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Speeding Cameras

Arizona is rolling out quite a number of new automated speed and red light cameras, an expansion which is expected to continue. See the article here.

Cutting down on speeding around here is a good thing (130mph??). But what's always worrying about such technologies is their function creep. Also, they're a technical fix that doesn't consider why people are driving so much and have to go so far (urban planning) and have to get there so quickly. Broader, and deeper, social questions.

Of course, do the cameras work?
Here's the Independent from London this summer.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What Color is Your House?

An interesting post about airport security and the new surveillance by Anita Allen over at the blog Daily Beast. How to get through security if you lack proper ID and the sorts of things they can find out about you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Case Against Electronic Books (take 2)


1. After around two and a half years of blogging, Ain't Got Time to Blog just logged it's 2,000th visit ("Low Traffic Site" I think is the phrase). Our final push over the top is due to the popularity of MC Howie and Julie and those searching for them on the web ending up here. Add to that some searches for Crying Nut and a few for Faye Wong. And even a few folks looking for me, this blog, or something I wrote.

2. Starting an occasional anecdotal series in this blog: "Argument Against Electronic Book Readers"
Our first entry I scrawled on the back page of Galloway and Thacker's "The Exploit" towards the end of Monday's flight from San Diego to Phoenix. "As we make our final descent into Phoenix, please turn off all portable electronic devices until we are on the ground."

3. As a side note regarding Monday's flight: Southwest is stating in ads that they now serve Monster beverages on board. Just what I need when packed like a smoked oyster (hah--thought I'd say "sardine"?) into a flying tin can: some guy hyped up on power drinks twitching in the seat next to me. What could be worse? Well, the day they allow cell phone calls on flights, that would be worse.

4. Update on the College of Human Services (CHS) saga: as of last Friday (21 November) the college and department are officially disestablished. In terms of the upcoming convocation, we (Com Studies faculty and students) are now back with the resurrected-for-one-day-like-David's-Mom-in-A.I. CHS for one final Convocation ceremony with our students before we join our new colleagues and students in the New College in next Spring's Convocation.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


[despite the date above, this was posted 11/8/08]

So, while we wait for the official vote by the Arizona Board of Regents in December or late November to dissolve the Department of Communication Studies and the College of Human Services, they are for all practical purposes gone. The Dean has been un-Deaned (and is currently an Interim Vice Provost) though I’ve heard rumors of an Acting Dean (somewhere), our Chair has been un-Chaired, all of the Dean’s staff is gone, Com Studies faculty now officially report to the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, our students are now being advised by an Advisor on the other side of the building (rather than around the corner from our offices), and so on.

The latest oddity in this whole process is that the College of Human Services will be resurrected for one last Convocation Ceremony in mid-December. However, as I understand it, the ceremony will be run by administrators from a different college (where the other departments and schools from CHS have gone), and Communication Studies will not be taking part. We (faculty and students) will be at the New College’s ceremony. I wonder what our students will make of the switch?

By the way, none of this is a reflection on my new colleagues or administrators in the New College. It’s just an observation on the strange limbo-like state that has been this semester.

This is also in the midst of another round of budget cuts. See the story in the Arizona Republic (and note the plan to have classes with up to 1,000 students in mass lectures). And the New York Times just picked up on some of the adjunct faculty layoffs--things are bad all over.

Supermarket surveillance

So you know that supermarket rewards cards help create nice consumer profiles of you. A concrete example of this just arrived in the mail from the grovery store we tend to frequent. It included 16 "personalized coupons" for things we "buy the most." They were (of course) pretty, scarily accurate (missed on a couple of things: we don't buy Coke Classic, for example, and do we really buy black olives that often? Maybe. And the offer of the free cashews is just trying to redirect our nut-buying habits onto new products). But they were also, sigh, really useful.

Of course, what the store can't profile are the things we buy at other places because they aren't available at their store (fair trade, organic coffee, for example), so the system just reinforces specific things from their own stock. It's a closed cybernetic system (teaching Andrejevic's iSpy next week, so this is all bouncing around in my cranium anyway).

Friday, October 24, 2008

MC Howie and Julie

I love these people.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Culture + Technology

Culture + Technology: A Primer just went into its 4th printing. I'm glad that so many have found it a useful book. It's quite exciting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Backscatter Backlash?

Well, that's overstating the case (but makes a good headline). European Union is debating whether to allow backscatter devices at airports. New York Times article here.

And just to add to the theme of airport surveillance: the lastest passenger screening protocol (e.g., terrorist watch lists) is being worked out. See the Arizona Republic (channeling an AP story) here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post-Debate Photo

OK. I didn't watch the last debate. Even so, I don't understand this picture at all (apparently McCain caught himself going in the wrong direction). One of those unfortunate images. But I can't stop laughing.

Image is from Reuters, via the Huffington Post

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Haven't had much on the election in here. But this one thing has been bugging me.

Newsweek (and others, but this excerpt is from Newsweek) describes a recent McCain rally:

At a town-hall event Friday in Minnesota, McCain took the microphone from a woman who said Obama is an Arab. McCain said, "No, ma'am," and he called Obama "a decent, family man."

I understand that McCain is trying to temper the comments of his supporters, but rather than simply denying that Obama is an Arab he makes the argument that he's a decent family man, as if that's the opposite of being Arab. Arabs certainly can be decent family men!


Friday, September 19, 2008

National Security and Kids (again)

Apparently Sesame Street has teamed with Homeland Security to teach kids about emergency preparedness. This is a follow-on from a previous post of mine (ain't got time to link) on national security and kids. Again, gotta be a paper in here somewhere.

Fira, take 2

Apparently they think she's a "mixed somali". Note how long her tail is.

More airport scanning

Breathe deeply, calm down, it's just a security check, nothing to worry about, forget that the cameras can tell if you're nervous, pulse racing, stressed. At least, that's the project: remote physiological scanning of passengers looking for signs of stress.

Monday, September 15, 2008


New cat in the family. First pet since Edmund passed away last year, and first cat in 14 years.

Fira is from the Humane Society. 2 yrs old female. Interesting mix of breeds. Medium-long hair, tortoise-shell coloring (looks like a thin Maine Coon), very thin, with a tail almost longer than she is. Quite friendly. More pictures later.

Book Signing

Signing copies of Cultural Globalization: A User's Guide at the Borders Books and Music at Camelback and 24th Street in Phoenix. This Friday, 19 September, from 6-8pm.

Note that the events page that the above link takes you to actually omits my signing (sigh), but that's par for the course.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Langdon Winner

Just discovered that Langdon Winner has a blog:

Thursday, August 21, 2008


One irony in all of this regarding the dissolution of the College of Human Services is that we all got brand new College of Human Services logo polo shirts just last week.

[I'm using "irony" here in the Alanis Morissette usage rather than the more literary usage.]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bye-Bye College of Human Services

ASU's restructuring again. We (department of comm studies) are moving to the New College of Arts and Sciences. Arizona Republic's article here. ASU's official announcement here (which doesn't actually mention that the college is going away entirely, I don't think).

Monday, August 04, 2008


Just picked up Maggie Jackson’s book, Distracted, which has been getting a lot of discussion this summer (on NPR at least). I've been saying for a while that we need to pay more attention to attention, so I'm glad to see the issues being debated. Might even spur me on to write more about it. Haven’t delved very far into the book [insert cheap Attention Deficit joke here] but did like the following nuanced passage, which nicely balances out the tech and social determinist positions on technology. The state of affairs she’s describing isn’t technology’s fault, but neither is technology blameless.

PowerPoint doesn’t make us dumb, and a judicious use of such slideware likely can help us navigate a world of information overload. I’m not angling for a return to some sort of pastoral, unmechanized Eden in order to halt the erosion of attention. We cannot blame technology for society’s ills. Nor can we fall into the opposite and increasingly commonplace trap of blindly trusting that our new tools will automatically usher us into a glorious new age. The tools we are wholeheartedly embracing today are inherently powerful, and we ignore that truth at our peril. You can use a stick for digging potatoes or stabbing your neighbor, so how you use a stick is important, but equally important is the fact that a stick is not a wheel. It’s crucial that we better understood how our new high-tech tools, from video games to PowerPoint, may be affecting us. Moreover, our tools reflect the values of our times, so it’s no coincidence that PowerPoint is a tool of choice in a world of snippets and sound bites.
p. 21
Maggie Jackson, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2008.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reading, part 2

Thinking more about all the recent debates about reading online (is Google Making us Stupid, and today’s NYT article on whether or not we’re reading online--and someday I may provide links) has me reflecting on my own reading practices. Like the author of the Atlantic piece, I too have a hard time sitting down and reading long books. But in my case one reason (or, perhaps, excuse) isn’t the ability to concentrate, but rather the distractions of young children. Being a very involved, hands-on parent means that I don’t have long stretches away from them to read. It’s easier to do quick things on the computer in the office when the opportunity arises because it’s usually interruptable and it makes us feel busy. We’ve worried that our children probably don’t see us modeling book reading that much as a consequence of this. On the other hand, our house is filled with probably thousands of books (less so nowadays in that a number are in storage since we’re trying to sell the house—apparently books count as clutter) and it’s said that just having books around is a good influence on children. As the kids get older (and learn to read and hopefully enjoy reading), we’re hoping to have more time to sit down for longer stretches and get back into some books.

As an aside, there’s a debate in the NYT piece about books not giving a variety of perspectives, or web-reading being broad but shallow. I wonder if web reading is in the end more solipsistic (that is, self-centered); yes you are the one putting together the beginning, middle, and end of the story, you are gathering the pieces you need and contributing as well to the ongoing conversation. This is the fully customizable Daily Me that Negroponte talked about a decade or more ago. But getting lost in a book, either fiction or non, means immersing oneself in someone else’s world**, which is an important skill (to stand in someone else’s shoes, getting away from oneself).

**Yes, I know enough about reader response theory to know that it’s never purely the author’s world.


Pondering some of the new debates about reading (like the Atlantic article on Google making us stupid and the recent NYT piece about reading online). More thoughts percolating, but for now I'm struck by how utilitarian reading is conceived in some of these debates, especially in support of the benefits of reading online (it's quick, efficient, multiple view points, etc.), and that pleasure and aesthetics get short shrift. Not just the "curling up in a comfy chair and cracking open a tome" but also the idea of losing oneself in prose.

I've been slowly inching my way through Pynchon's Against the Day and was thinking how different the experience is to that described by the web-reading school. Pynchon must frustrate the hell out of those skimming for key points. Instead, one puts one's kayak in at the start of the sentence and just hang on as you plunge along, or perhaps bounce lightly from phrase to phrase, until one comes to a rest. Then up and over the period into the next sentence, caught in eddies and side currents, asides and digressions and qualifiers and descriptives. The fun's in the ride.

Now, if all writing and reading was like this, we'd be in trouble. There's a diversity of uses and pleasures in reading and we need to be careful to acknowledge as many as we can.

Friday, June 06, 2008


In 1910 Thomas Edison's studios produced the first ever film version of Frankenstein. It was thought lost. A full version of the history of this short film is here.

The film has finally made it on to YouTube.
Part One
Part Two

The creation sequence is cool (for 1910). And interestingly, the film posits the creature as essentially evil (evil in the heart of Frankenstein himself leads the creature to be evil), a theme echoed in the 1931 film version (where the creature's evil is attributed to an abnormal brain), and in sharp contrast with Shelley's novel where the creature is born innocent but only driven to evil by human hatred. As the creature himself states in the novel, "I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend."

Friday, May 16, 2008


Quick announcement:

I've just been named the next editor of the journal, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Just in time for a massive roll-out of a CCTV surveillance network in Washington, DC, is a report from the UK (CCTV Capital of the World), that CCTV isn't, um, really yeilding results.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thus Ate Zarathustra

"No philosopher came close to solving the problem of guilt and weight until Descartes divided mind and body into two, so that the body could gorge itself while the mind thought, Who cares? It's not me."

Woody Allen (2007) Mere Anarchy. New York: Random House. p. 142

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Anti-anti Western Legislation

From today's Arizona Republic:

"Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.

Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state's universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus."

The article continues.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

National Security For Kids!

There's a paper in here somewhere...

America's CryptoKids! Yes, that's the NSA's Kid's Page. Check out the biographies of all the colorful animated characters!

Ready Kids! That's the Department of Homeland Security where you can learn readiness from the mountain lion family of colorful animated characters!

And then there's the CIA's Kid's Page (with it's rough, spy v. spy animation)

And then the FBI's kids page, with a host of animated characters (though none as slick as the NSA's, I must say. FBI has Shirley and Darrell, our doggy guides, and Maureen and Jose--I'm longing for Mulder and Scully).

Can anyone think of others?

New Books

New books coming across the threshold:

Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker, The Exploit: A Theory of Networks (2007, Minnesota) [thanks to Greg S. for the heads up on this one].

Paul Dourish, Where the Action is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction (2001, MIT) [time to send the library's copy back]

Rich Ling, New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion (2008, MIT).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Movie Meme: Take 2

A number of films are still left to be identified from the earlier post. I've added some hints to help this along. See the earlier post.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Earth Hour

The following message has been forwarded around my kids school. Seemed like a cool idea:

Earth Hour is coming! The people of Phoenix have an exciting
opportunity to positively impact climate change this Saturday, March
29th. Phoenix is one of four U.S. cities selected by the World
Wildlife Fund to participate in Earth Hour 2008, a worldwide event
March 29, from 8 to 9pm. During this one hour, please join millions
of people across the world in shutting off your lights.

Turning off all non-essential lights for one hour alone can make a big
impact. Last year, Sydney, Australia initiated the event and reduced
their energy use by 10% in a single hour. This energy reduction is
equivalent to taking 48,000 vehicles off the road!

The city of Phoenix cares deeply about the negative effects of global
warming and is committed to reducing our energy use and dependence on
foreign sources of fuel. As part of our sustainability campaign, the
city has retrofitted 95% of city buildings with energy-efficient
lighting, has implemented nine solar energy projects across the city,
has worked to build one of the nation's largest municipal clean fuel
fleets, and has partnered with grocery stores to reduce the use of
plastic bags and promote reusable bags.

APS and SRP will measure how much energy is saved during Earth Hour
Phoenix. So, we need your help to make every little bit count.
Please join us in demonstrating our city's commitment to keeping our
environment clean, safe, and sustainable for generations to come. To
volunteer or to learn more, contact the Earth Hour hotline at (602)
417-1363 or visit earthhour.org.

Cultural Globalization

Copies of Cultural Globalization: A User's Guide just arrived in the mail today! It's an actual book! Very exciting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Movie Meme

I've added some hints in bold below, just to move this along some.

OK. Gil tagged me with a movie meme. He had tweaked the rules, which I'm tweaking some more.

The rules:

1. Pick fifteen of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie. (Or in some cases, just remember them.)
3. Post them for everyone to guess.
4. Strike out each quote when someone guesses it correctly, and append the names of the movie and the guesser.
5. No Googling/using IMDb/Wikiquote search functions. That would be cheatin’.
6. Tag ten people (I upped this from five, since I figure half my taggees won’t cooperate).

My tweak: I ain't tagging nobody. Partly this is because the only folks I really know with blogs who would be in real danger of actually reading this blog have already been tagged. So I'll open the meme up: if you're reading this and have a blog and want to carry this on, just let me know and I'll post it here. A voluntary meme.

Here's the list. Some are pretty easy (fish in barrel kind of easy). If you know the films, post your guesses in the comments.

1. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. [Star Wars. Gil]
2. Asps. Very dangerous. You go first. [Raiders of the Lost Ark. Gil]
3. It’s not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy? [Buckaroo Banzai. Gil]
4. I hope all your children have very small dicks. And that includes the girls! [hint: spoken by Jeff Goldblum]
5. You people are bastard people! [hint: spoken by Christopher Guest]
6. Well, nobody’s perfect. [Some Like it Hot. Gil]
7. You’re gonna need a bigger boat. [Jaws. Gil]
8. Keep watching the sky, MacIntyre [Local Hero. Tracy]
9. Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed! In Greenland! [Princess Bride. Tracy]
10. I’m a friend. Companero. [hint: spoken by Peter Falk]
11. There WERE blanks in that gun! [hint: involves a horse]
12. You’ve done a man’s job, sir! [hint: a line crucial to a central character's identity]
13. The Internet. Is that the one with the email? [hint: spoken by John Michael Higgins]
14. Back home everyone said I didn't have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here but it sounds better in French. [hint: spoken by Gene Kelly][American in Paris. Tracy]
15. Lost in time, and lost in space, and meaning. [hint: full quote begins, "And crawling on the planet's face, some insects called the human race..."] [Rocky Horror Picture Show. Gil]
and a bonus:
16. Girl: At least you've stopped kissing me like I was your Aunty.
Boy: What's my Aunty going to say when I kiss her at Christmas?
[Gregory's Girl. Tracy]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke has died. There are any number of obits out there. I never read his work extensively, but did like Childhood's End and the short story "Nine Billion Names of God" (which someone put on the web here--I forgot just how short it is) has stayed with me for a long long time. I like the mix of science and spirituality.

Before I was born, my parents lived in Ceylon and were friends with Clarke's diving partner, Mike Wilson. So they had Clarke over to the house once (he was apparently less than gregarious as a guest, but then he was also in the middle of writing 2001 at the time). Clarke did let my dad use his dark room, however.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Watch those cameras!

The London Metropolitan Police has a new counter-terrorism campaign going which has been drawing attention--basically by making everyone suspicious of everyone else. The main page is here. There are lots of vivid posters to go with it, including this one which tells folks to watch out for anyone with a camera taking pictures who may seem suspicious. Others include warnings to watch out for people with too many mobile phones. When in doubt, report it to the police and let them sort it out.

Fortunately quite a number of parodies are being circulated. A good sampling are on the Boing Boing blog. Which goes to show that though we may be increasingly ineffectual in slowing the rise of the surveillance state, we at least have a sense of humor.

Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax, co-inventor of Dungeons and Dragons, died a week or so ago. I was struck by just how many prominent obituaries of him I've noticed. Not only this, I've seen editorials speaking to his influence on our culture (some even saying that his game set the groundwork for the widespread success of the Lord of the Rings films, and definitely were foundational for the last twenty to thirty years of computer adventure games). It's nice to see D&D (or at least it's co-founder) receive some sort of recognition as a creative and potentially positive activity after all the lost-in-the-sewers-satanic panic against the game in the '80s. The game got my friends and I interested in medieval history and literature. For us, the games were always about problem solving, interaction, and being creative rather than the "hack and slash/might makes right/where's the treasure?" direction of some of the games. These were interactive novels that we created collaboratively (yes, in the basement of my parents' house, surrounded by Mountain Dew and Doritoes) where we thought about such things as character and setting. I still remember some of them, like good books I enjoyed reading. I remember that at some point in one of the manuals (perhaps the Player's Handbook or the Dungeon Master's Guide), Gygax urged players to avoid combat if at all possible: to think and not just fight. We always took him seriously on that point. Out of nostalgia, I dug up my old books (signed by Gygax, himself, no less). So I'll have to check.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

transformative surveillance

I just finished teaching The Lives of Others in my surveillance class and it made me begin to reflect on a theme within the surveillance film genre. That theme is that of transformative surveillance, that is the act of surveilling others fundamentally transforms the observer (in a good way). In the case of The Lives of Others this is the transformation H. Gerd Weisler as he listens in to the lives of Georg and Christa. Does this transformation then justify the surveillance (without this opportunity to surveil, Weisler would have continued as an efficient Stasi interrogator)? Or is this just part of a romantic humanist theme to these films: the human spirit will win out in the end (cf. the Truman Show). That is, either those surveilled will always resist and surveillance will never be complete, or that the act of surveillance bestirs a fundamental humanity within the observer (meaning that the system will crumble from within). This romanticism is certainly evident in The Lives of Others (which dwells on the transformative potential of music and poetry—Can anyone who truly hears this music be a bad person, Georg asks at one point).

Pondering this theme made me realize as well that this formula of transformation through surveillance applied as well to Wings of Desire (and it is odd to think of this as a film about surveillance, but isn’t it?).

There are films that have less radical transformations of those who surveil: The Conversation (Harry’s moral center has always been there, it just finally triumphs over the technicist rationalizations he uses to do his work [“I just make the tapes”]) and Disturbia (Kale finally starts taking responsibility for his life and actions).

Interestingly, I don’t think Jefferies is transformed through his experiences in “Rear Window.”

And then there are any number of films where the voyeur is untouched by what he or she surveils (this is especially true in slasher films). Are any of those who surveil transformed in Enemy of the State? I think Fiedler (Jack Black’s character) is just operating under CYA principles and doesn’t have a moral revelation. This final squashing of humanity (that is, the eradication of humanity in those surveilled, and the refusal of the possibility that the observers could be transformed) is after all the point of Orwell’s 1984. O’Brien isn’t going to change because of what he observes in Winston.

David Lyon argues that surveillance is a relationship and therefore is transformative of both parties. However he also points out the most surveillance today isn’t of this direct, face-to-face kind but is the use of computer protocols to sort all kinds of data. There is no hope of transformation of a computer program scanning faces or credit data.

So is this theme of transformation a useful way of thinking about surveillance films?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


First time I ever noticed this. Did a Google search and found the following at the bottom of the page:
"In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at ChillingEffects.org." With a link to here.

I'm too sleepy to dig into this further right now (and need to finish lecture notes on national ID cards and biometrics for class in the morning). Anyone seen this before?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Online booksellers

Here's a drawback with online booksellers: flawed databases. Case in point: According to Barnes and Noble's website, I'm co-author of "Current Perspectives on Sex Crimes", which I'm sure is a top notch volume in its field, but not my area of expertise and not a publication of mine. Note the fact that my name is not on the cover of the book, which is displayed on the page. Have I sent a correction in to Barnes and Noble? Twice (following proper channels as well; there's an author's feedback section), and have been told it will be fixed. Third time's the charm? Sigh.

Cultural Globalization: A User's Guide

Published by Blackwell. Should be out in April.
Links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. These sites only list the hardback, but it will be in paperback as well. Note the link to Blackwell.

By the way, the cover photograph is one I took in Guangzhou back in January, 2001. I'm very pleased they used it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dad & I

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Leading Surveillance Societies

Privacy International has just released its rankings of surveillance societies around the world, based on issues of privacy. The link is here. The opening map is interesting and useful. The US, UK, Russia, and China are all in Black, indicating "Endemic Surveillance Societies."

I was to teach a class in International Communication this Spring, but not enough enrolled, so we pulled the plug on it and I'm running my surveillance, film, and culture class again. Wanted to teach so many different films, but no time. Wanted to teach Cache, for example. But at least will teach Lives of Others.

Been through Sky Harbor airport three times in the last couple of months and haven't been backscattered yet.

And speaking of leading surveillance societies, it looks like they're really planning on enforcing the REAL ID Act and beefing up requirements for US driver's licenses, to the point where if a state doesn't comply that those licenses will not be adequate for citizens to pass security at airports, government buildings, etc. (or at least, not without additional scrutiny). Link to Arizona Republic article here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

John MacDonald Wise


April 24, 1935—December 26, 2007

John MacDonald Wise passed away peacefully on December 26, 2007, at the age of 72, after a mercifully brief struggle with ALS. The youngest son of George and Ruby Wise, he was born on April 24, 1935, in Pasadena, California. He graduated from Pasadena College in 1957. As a Danforth Scholar, he attended the University of Chicago, receiving his M.A. in Sociology. John and his wife Donna served as volunteers in Bangladesh with the American Friends Service Committee. John joined the humanitarian aid organization CARE in 1963, serving in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, India, and Korea. He spent the final years of his career working for Krause Milling Company (in the Philippines and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and then ADM (in Overland Park, Kansas) in food production and distribution. Upon retirement, he relocated to Woodland, California.

John was a man of compassion and humor. He was a talented artist and photographer, a scholar, an avid reader, a dedicated gardener, and--according to his many friends--the world’s best listener. He was endlessly interested in people, their ways of life, and their work. A highpoint of his career was accompanying Senator Edward Kennedy as a representative of the U.S. food industry on a fact-finding mission to famine-stricken Ethiopia and the Sudan in 1984.

He is survived by wife of 47 years, Donna; daughter Tracy of Appleton, Wisconsin; son and daughter-in-law Greg and Elise and their two children, Brennen and Catherine of Phoenix, Arizona; best friends Bob Salley and Warren Wells; older siblings Celia Teerink, Bill Wise, George Wise, and Harriet Meredith; and many nephews and nieces. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2:00 p.m. at Woodland United Methodist Church (212 Second Street, Woodland, CA, 530/662-6274). In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to ALS research at: UCSF Foundation, c/o Eden Jacoby, Dept. of Neurology, 44 Montgomery Street, Suite 2200, San Francisco, CA 94104.