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).