Monthly Archives: November 2007

After You, Alphonse

I’m deep in the annual ritual of getting out recommendation letters for students applying to graduate programs and other opportunities. Sometimes an attempt to simplify or streamline a procedure reveals how arbitrary some of the procedure actually is. Case in … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 7 Comments

History 1L The History of Play and Leisure, Spring 2008

So this is the first time I’ve tried this course. I have no idea if the goon squad that runs around looking for allegedly lightweight courses is going to pick up on this one by its title, but at least … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 16 Comments

“Fails to Consider”

I was doing a good bit of grading over the Thanksgiving break, and I was once again struck by a rhetorical habit in a lot of undergraduate papers, including some otherwise very strong, well-written ones. Namely, criticizing an author by … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 9 Comments

History 88 The Social History of Consumption, Spring 2008

Here’s the current draft of a course I’ve been teaching here pretty much since I arrived. Spruced up here and there, but this syllabus tends to be one of the most architecturally stable of my courses. One thing I always … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Consumerism, Advertising, Commodities | 11 Comments

Buy Early, Buy Often

If ever a webcomic deserved stunning marketplace success through the mass purchase of a book edition, it’s this one. I have been annoying everyone at our house with frequent laughter. My daughter is also annoyed that she cannot look at … Continue reading

Posted in Popular Culture | 6 Comments

BTW on Mass Effect

I really am looking forward to playing Mass Effect, especially now that the word on some other big releases this month is mixed. (However: Super Mario Galaxy? Exceptionally fun. One of the best multiplayer set-ups I’ve seen. More to come … Continue reading

Posted in Games and Gaming | 4 Comments

Battlestar Galactica Razor

Saw it last night with some other Swarthmore geeks (you know who you are). It was good stuff. I guess it had better be, given how long it is until the fourth season begins. (The Sci-Fi Channel really doesn’t seem … Continue reading

Posted in Popular Culture | Comments Off on Battlestar Galactica Razor

I Never

Via Matt Yglesias, a discussion about Paul Berman’s claims that he opposed the war in Iraq. (Rather similar to Michael Ledeen and Michael Ignatieff claiming the same thing.) I agree with the sneering at Berman’s claims of opposition, but there’s … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments


Last spring, when I was at Google, I threw out a sort of off-the-cuff idea that what we really needed was a Facebook for books, a more intentional, extensive and non-profit-driven version of Amazon’s tools for connecting books through search … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Information Technology and Information Literacy | 11 Comments

The Unrepresentable

A while back, my colleague Bob Rehak argued that the Harry Potter books appear over time to have been written with an increasing consciousness of their translation to digital special effects. This is one of the big underlying differences between … Continue reading

Posted in Popular Culture | 24 Comments