Headed out to New Orleans Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'll be leaving for a weekend trip to New Orleans for LACC, so I might end up missing a day in NaBloPoMo.

In other news, I've beefed up my placeholder Facebook profile, which I've had for a long time, and started adding friends. I slightly prefer MySpace, but the thing that finally convinced me to pay more attention to Facebook is that an old friend from college found me via Facebook. That kind of thing happens every day, but this case was special as this old friend is from Indonesia and, I believe, moved back there after college. I never thought I'd find her again. So I figured if I could find Devi via Facebook, it must be pretty good.

It's also interesting that there are all these references to objects now on Facebook; I'm sure many others have made the comparison before, but it seems almost MOO-like.

First-Market Consumerism

I try to shop at Goodwill whenever I can, especially when I need something I know Goodwill will have, like clothes, dishes, and glasses. I don't have to shop at Goodwill out of economic necessity, though I am a big cheapskate and like to save money. I choose to shop at Goodwill because I like the idea of buying something that did not exploit raw materials for my use only. When I read about The Compact last year, I thought it was a great idea and really wanted to be more like that in my everyday life. The thing is, "first-market consumerism," which The Compact's spokespeople say they are trying to curb, isn't really a term, or not a well-known one, if it is. Freecycle works on the same principle -- speaking of which, I really need to join the Acadiana Freecycle group.

Anyway, I wish someone in The Compact would create an information page defining the term "first-market consumerism," intuitive as it may be, and lay out what the problems are with it (supported by sources). I don't do a very good job explaining it myself.

Three things

1. You should read this essay about racism as reflected in postcards. Here's a taste:

Postcards, like the ones I will show you were sold openly without embarrassment from approximately 1900 to 1960. They were mailed from all over the United States by and to regular citizens. They are racist and they are shocking. As denigrating of African Americans as they are, I want you to remind yourself that like slavery in America they are the invention of white Americans. These images tell us much more about the people who made them, bought them and sent them than they tell us about the subjects of these cards – African Americans. In places I have also included the text written on the back of the cards – at times the text is also racist, but to me more shocking is that the messages are usually totally mundane; the stuff of everyday life. That white Americans would send cards such as the ones I will show you for the most ordinary of purposes indicates the frightening extent to which they had internalized, accepted and condoned the presentation of African Americans that were the public face of the cards they sent. If you find the images too upsetting and need to step out of assembly I fully understand.

Via Metafilter.

2. The Dairi Burger is officially the awesomest blog ever and best site devoted to girls' young adult fiction of the 1980s. Particularly good posts are here and here. Via Feministing.

3. If I could choose any superpower, I would choose telekinesis. It's so easy a choice that I wouldn't even have to think about it.

What is your opinion of regular V8?

Love it, yum
23% (11 votes)
Like it okay, but have to be in the mood for it
28% (13 votes)
Don't like it, but it beats Clamato
4% (2 votes)
Hate it, yuck
45% (21 votes)
Total votes: 47


Three weeks of class left. (and then finals week) I guess I should say two and a half, since Thanksgiving is one of the weeks. I hope I can make it.

In other news, I have been thinking about trying some of the recipes in Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. Probably not this one, though:

COLLARED PIG’S FACE (a Breakfast or Luncheon Dish).

823. INGREDIENTS - 1 pig’s face; salt. For brine, 1 gallon of spring water, 1 lb. of common salt, 1/2 handful of chopped juniper-berries, 6 bruised cloves, 2 bay-leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, basil, sage, 1/4 oz. of saltpetre. For forcemeat, 1/2 lb. of ham, 1/2 lb. bacon, 1 teaspoonful of mixed spices, pepper to taste, 1/4 lb. of lard, 1 tablespoonful of minced parsley, 6 young onions.

[Illustration: PIG’S FACE.]

Mode.—Singe the head carefully, bone it without breaking the skin, and rub it well with salt. Make the brine by boiling the above ingredients for 1/4 hour, and letting it stand to cool. When cold, pour it over the head, and let it steep in this for 10 days, turning and rubbing it often. Then wipe, drain, and dry it. For the forcemeat, pound the ham and bacon very finely, and mix with these the remaining ingredients, taking care that the whole is thoroughly incorporated. Spread this equally over the head, roll it tightly in a cloth, and bind it securely with broad tape. Put it into a saucepan with a few meat trimmings, and cover it with stock; let it simmer gently for 4 hours, and be particular that it does not stop boiling the whole time. When quite tender, take it up, put it between 2 dishes with a heavy weight on the top, and when cold, remove the cloth and tape. It should be sent to table on a napkin, or garnished with a piece of deep white paper with a ruche at the top.

Time.—4 hours. Average cost, from 2s. to 2s. 6d.

Seasonable from October to March.

On Memorizing Poetry

A great post I missed from Amanda:

The thing about remembering a poem, one line at a time, one word leading to another, anticipating when the next rhyme is coming around or where the line is about to break — the great thing about it is that it's a form of heightened concentration. It helps push other thoughts to the side. Almost as if the poem were a mantra, or a charm against "whatever it is that's encroaching" (to borrow a phrase from Charles Simic). Poetry sometimes seems to be quite close, even now, to its early roots in incantation, and I think memorization brings one near those roots. It certainly worked that way when I invoked Coleridge and Keats against the tedium of running. I've been having an unusually rough couple of weeks, and I'm finding that it still does. Now it's more likely to be Ashbery, or Stevens, or Bishop, or Yeats, but the fact that they're still there in my head is strangely encouraging.

The "memorize a poem" assignment in literature survey courses has been maligned by many as...I don't understand the specific objections, but I'm glad I was required to do it in high school and college.

Weekend's work

I must devote a big chunk of this weekend to preparing my presentation for LACC next weekend. Of course I have forty or fifty other things to do as well, but that's the most pressing.


From "Standardizing a First-Year Writing Program: Contested Sites of Influence," by Sheila Carter-Tod. WPA: Writing Program Administration, Spring 2007.

With our task before us and our goals in mind, we spend the greater part of a summer deciding on course assignment sequencing, common assignments, and themes for our two-part course sequence. We wrestle with issues such as which writing and reading assignments encourage the specific kinds of critical thinking that are part of our objectives, and we happily discuss the ways the choices that we have made might eliminate some of the "problems" we knew existed in the "ways in which specific unnamed faculty had been treating first-year writing as a literature course or as a platform for exploring some objectionable -- almost pornographic -- themes." These are all arguments that those of us attending the meetings had heard expressed by colleagues within the department and faculty outside the department. What we don't discuss are the ways in which we, in standardizing the requirements and creating five themes for all 250 sections of our first-year program, are quite possibly diminishing the positive and wide range of experiences students may have in their first-year writing sequence. We do not discuss the idea that, by limiting what may be perceived as "extremes" in the process of establishing specific standards, we might also be limiting the environments in which students may be encouraged to learn more about themselves and others through writing, though the grappling with less-than-comfortable cultural issues and issues of difference. We also do not discuss the possibility that hearsay about extremes, while possibly an issue in any course in any department, may have been taken completely out of context. Instead, we focus our attention on ways to make sure that we address the outside critiques that initially brought our courses into question -- critiques like those from some engineering faculty who have questioned how personal writing could prepare students for the reports or data interpretations that would be expected of them as part of their engineering curriculum. Others in the university have had trouble seeing reasons that students should take a writing course in the English department when other departments offered writing and public speaking in the same course. In response to these demands for convenience and economy of effort coupled with the fear of losing colleagues in the next round of budget cuts looming over us, we work on building an argument for making sure that the writing program in the English department is seen as vital to the goals and needs of the larger university.

Carter-Tod is at Virginia Tech, which is perhaps where the engineering faculty critique comes in. While the article isn't very specific about what they ended up doing with the curriculum (it does say that they have a custom textbook for first-year writing), it does say that in their curriculum, the guidelines for the assignments are broad, as in, one essay requires students to do analysis, one essay requires synthesis, and one essay requires argument. Besides that, teachers can design the assignments however they want, including choosing the readings. I would have appreciated an appendix or two consisting of a statement about the curriculum that the WPA gives to teachers, or a table of contents of their textbook. Still, very interesting stuff. You can probably tell that I share some of Carter-Tod's reservations about standardization, but I would really like to hear some critiques of the position she outlines in the quoted selection.

Edited to add: Actually, I know that one argument for standardization is that it can be helpful for new teachers, who sometimes don't know what to teach and how to teach it. For them, a set syllabus and detailed assignment descriptions can be beneficial.

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