Recommended daily reading – 2 March (yes, I still do this edition)

I finally compiled enough links to post a new round-up.

In the area of teaching and learning:

  • At Inside Higher Ed, Robert Eisinger writes about the importance of “teaching ambiguity”. This is one of my great challenges. Cultural geographers deal with subjects that are ambiguous in their meaning and significance, and one thing I try to do is to help students develop tools and perspectives that enable them to effectively address topics where answers can be open-ended and much depends on the questions asked and in what context.
  • Curiosity Counts provides this quick hit about teens and geo-location services.

Turning to geography-related matters:

  • Jake Tobin Garrett has a defense of “messiness” in Toronto, and in cities in general. While one way to look at telephone polls plastered with fliers is as eyesores, Garrett points to them as indicators of a city’s creativity and energy.
  • SightLine has an interesting look at traffic volume in the Pacific Northwest, and how it has fallen short of expectations, suggesting that transportation planning need not be as car-oriented as it has been.

Renee French posted this image of a woman with a closed eye that I can’t quite shake. I think there is something compelling in the contract between the enclosed eye and the open one.

This, via ComicsAlliance, is awesome news, even if it is speculative.

Finally, I found The Mary Sue, a new blog devoted to girl geek culture, via GeekGirlCon on Twitter. And at The Mary Sue, Susana Polo has an interesting post arguing for women, and sexual minorities, to strategically gender or “out” themselves online as a way to break down the idea that the internet is a male/masculine space. The discussion in comments is well worth reading, too. While you are there, read Polo’s introduction/mission statement for the site.

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Recommended daily reading – 9 February

Despite the time that has passed, only a few items here.

Fun item linked from the Torontoist about a program to tap maple trees outside of people’s homes in the city.

Staying in Toronto, here is another of the “Street Scenes” being posted at Spacing’s Toronto blog.

At Newsrama, Jill Potzzi has a smart discussion of what Dave E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman series for NBC needs to do. I think that this passage is particularly on-target:

Wonder Woman is just as much, if not more ferocious than Superman and Batman yet they won’t let her act that way in live-action. I understand having to have a balance between her feminine side or a secret identity but I can all-but-guarantee you she is going to spend way too much time in the “office” on this show. NBC and Kelley would do themselves a big favor by following what the Wonder Woman animated film by Lauren Montgomery, Michael Jelenic and Gail Simone presented to audiences as far as tone.

And, via Project:Rooftop, yes, please, to this.

Recommended daily reading – 1 February (nice quotes edition)

I have a series of pointers to pieces with individual quotations that I find to be particularly perceptive, or that articulate views I have in a perfect way. Emphasis is mine.

At CBR’s “She has no Head”, Kelly Thompson presents the Ladies Comics Project, and one of her readers, Nora, has this wonderful comment on women’s bodies in comics:

Not going to lie, I’m always a little disappointed in the insane bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio of comic book ladies (or at least the ones I have seen).  I recognize it as a style, I know it’s fantasy, but, you know, not mine.

Originally linked from Thompson’s 1979 Semi-Finalist.

At the Spacing Toronto blog, economist Hugh McKenzie has this pitch perfect discussion of government revenues and spending. What he says in the interview seems so simple and rational, you would think that we could proceed from this premise in all discussions of public budgets. Sadly, not true.

A city’s means aren’t fixed. A government’s means are determined politically, just as government expenses are determined politically. To say that the City should “live within its means” is to say nothing whatsoever. It only masks an argument for less services. When people make that suggestion, it’s undisclosed code for, “We know the cost of what we’re currently doing is going up and we’re not prepared to see taxes go up every year to pay for it. Therefore, every year we’re going to have to reduce the amount of services being provided.”

Finally, on Crooked Timber, John Quiggin has this insightful comment at the close of a piece on “U.S. decline”:

The main implication of all this, for me, is that Americans should stop worrying about relative “decline”, “competitiveness” and so on, and start focusing on making the US a better place to live.

In other political items, Carla Wise has a piece at High Country News on the lack of USDA approved slaughterhouses and the implications of that lack for small and local farmers, including one of our favorites, Afton Field Farm. And on Mother Jones, Kevin Drum reblogs three questions about events in Egypt and how American neocons are likely to respond to those events.

In comics and art:

  • On Techland, Douglas Wolk has some good advice to owners, or would-be owners of comics shops. I particularly am in favor of promoting points 2 and 3, and would second his statement about the quality of the stores in Portland.
  • At Written World, Ragnell has an interesting take on DC’s announcement of a Wonder Woman-themed cosmetic line.
  • Haven’t linked to Renee French in awhile, but the other day she posted this wonderfully goofy dog. And back on the Spacing Toronto blog is the latest of their lovely “Street Scenes” from Jerry Waese.

Recommended daily reading – 18 January

An eclectic list of items from my feeds:

At OregonLive, Shawn Levy covers the Portland premiere of IFC’s Portlandia, which airs this Friday on the channel.

Meanwhile, via Publisher’s Weekly on Twitter, is news of India’s first comic convention.

From Spacing Magazine on Twitter is a pointer to a study that suggests that bicycling infrastructure contributes more to economic development than does similar building for cars.

Another Twitter link, this one to Foreign Policy from ed bice (via ProgGrrl), and to an article by Marc Lynch taking an early look at social media and the current political situation in Tunisia. As a high school student I worked on an Amnesty International campaign to free a political prisoner in Tunisia, an individual who was eventually released, which does not happen most of the time. So, I have a slight personal connection to issues of freedom and democracy in that country that has raised my interest in what’s happening now.

Finally, Torontoist has this neat work of graffiti.

Recommended daily reading – 10 January (first of the new year late edition)

With the start of the term, I have not had much time to make new posts. Here are some items I have cataloged:

From the world of comics:

  • On Okazu, Erica Friedman has the results of an informal poll concerning “what women want” from the comics they read. The short version: it isn’t that complicated, not matter how mysterious and alien many of the folks at DC and Marvel like to imagine women and girl readers to be.
  • On Techland, Douglas Wolk does some quick analysis of Diamond’s numbers related to the bestselling comics of 2010. It’s interesting to note the extent to which the trade paperback and long form book sales were dominated by independently published titles.
  • On Comics Alliance today, Laura Hudson looks at comments made by the owner of the Heavy Ink comics store regarding last Saturday’s shootings in Arizona and the response by creators such as Gail Simone and Nick Spencer. Anyone who takes this moment to advocate more shooting of public officials clearly has both political and personal problems beyond the scope of comics, but I also think that this episode is an illustration why it is never possible to compartmentalize these kinds of questions as if “comics” and “politics” are separate matters.
  • Via girlsreadcomics on Twitter, is some really cool Amanda Connor art.

In academia:

  • Via Dean Blumberg on Twitter, is a link to this article on the growth in certificate programs at institutions of higher education in the U.S. The article notes that much of this growth is at for-profit schools, but that public institutions are also offering more of these credentials. As someone in the liberal arts, I have my doubts about the value of these programs in the long run, and am concerned that they represent a further degrading of higher education to a kind of narrow vocational training. My institution confirms the trend identified in the piece. Thankfully, the article leads with questions about the value of these certificates to students.
  • At ProHacker, Amy Cavender relates some of her experience trying to teaching an intro level class without resort to a traditional textbook. Her efforts, and conclusions, mirror some of my own.

Finally, Dwell has started a project to map “The World’s Best Public Spaces”. Check it out and contribute if you have a favorite.

2010 contributions to PopMatters

PopMatters is on its annual publishing break, so here is a compilation of my contributions from the year:

DVD reviews:

Metropia (2009), 17 November, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/133436-metropia/

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect (2007), 22 September, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/131069-rem-koolhaas-a-kind-of-architect/

A Town Called Panic (2009), 19 July, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/128344-a-town-called-panic/

Uncertainty (2009), 1 June, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/126249-uncertainty

Arizona Dream (1993), 30 April, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/124507-arizona-dream-warner-archive-collection

Blood Ties: The Complete Series (2007), 23 April, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/124137-blood-ties-the-complete-series

Examined Life (2008), 26 February, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/120778-examined-life/

Sita Sings the Blues (2009), 11 January, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/118090-sita-sings-the-blues/

“Worlds in Panels”:

“A case for comics in College”, 3 February, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/119402-teaching-with-comics/

“Creator: various”, 10 March, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/120569-comics-authorship-reaching-the-limits-of-singular-genius/

“Egads! Comics! In the library!”, 7 April 2010, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/123371-my-ten-year-old-is-reading-what-the-meaning-of-the-comics-section-at/

“Comics: it’s such a big small world”, 6 May 2010, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/124633-between-big-and-small-what-conventions-tell-us-about-american-comics/

“Freeze frame: how best to capture film in a comic book?”, 8 June, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/126368-the-art-of-making-moving-images-still/

“Almost lifelike: drawing out reality in comics art”, 26 July, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/127397-comics-art-referencing-the-real-drawing-out-reality/

“The danger of ‘Girl Comics'”, 16 August, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/128969-thinking-beyond-this-years-women-of-marvel/

“‘Scott Pilgrim’ and what movies means to comics”, 30 August, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/130258-scott-pilgrim-and-what-movies-mean-to-comics/

“Strange tales and mainstreams: when all superheroes are uncanny”, 5 October 2010, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/131215-strange-tales-and-mainstreams/

“From pin-ups to ass-kickers: girls in comics go through transitions”, 16 November, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/132715-comics-gender-gap/

“The year in review: the best comics of 2010”, 14 December, http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/134160-the-most-interesting-comics-i-read-in-2010-trade-paperback-edition/

Recommended daily reading – 20 December (emptying out the archive edition)

Been neglecting this part of the blog lately:

First, the most topical item. Via the freepress Save The Internet blog, bad news about the FCC and Net Neutrality. If you care about access to the internet, do what you can to forestall this action.

In other political news, but late-ish now, on Written World, Ragnell has a well-argued reponse to former DC President Paul Leyritz’s comment to the effect that superhero stories ‘fundamentally’ appeal to boys more than girls. Ragnell smartly hones in on the essentialism of this statement as the underlying problem with Leyritz’s perspective on the genre.

IFC has been promoting their new original series, Portlandia, premiering in January. The show will satirize life in my hometown, Portland, Oregon, particularly as the city boomed with ‘creatives’ starting in the 1990s. Looking forward to checking it out, and curious as to how people who don’t really know Portland will respond to the series.

From the world of webcomics:

(Sidenote: the links I collected for this post are the first from Pinboard. I made the switch from delicious over the weekend. Here’s why – assuming you don’t already know.)