Recommended daily reading – 26 January (been longer than I thought edition)

Items that I have been compiling.

From the world of academia:

  • Last week, Michelle Obama gave a little noted talk encouraging study abroad for American college students. Her focus on China is predictable, but I do appreciate that she seems to have grounded that in a broader appeal. It isn’t easy getting Western students to leave the comforts of home, but maybe as the university attracts more international students itself, that will change.
  • On her Cocktail Party Physics blog, Jennifer Ouellette has a great post on Veronica Mars as a model for girls in science.
  • rabble.ca has an interesting post about the University of Toronto General Assembly, which is an attempt on the part of students, faculty, staff, and community to build an alternate governing model for the university.

Turning to comics:

  • Via Ragnell on Written World, is a link to this Metrokitty comic on the “paper mirror” which succinctly explains why diversity in comics matters.
  • On the other side of that debate, Gail Simone on her tumblr blog, tangles with an aspiring comics writer regarding his desire not to be compelled to write a comics with a gay hero.
  • Project:Rooftop recently featured this cool Victorian Batman by Matthew Humphreys.
  • Finally, it isn’t really news anymore, but I learned of the new Batman film casting via Comics Alliance. Right now, I am mostly interested to know what it means that Anne Hathaway has been cast as “Selina Kyle” rather than as Catwoman.

And in urban geography, via Inhabitat, Washington DC unveiled a bike station adjacent to Union Station. On the Spacing Magazine blog, Alex Bozikovic, looks at an interesting contest to design wildlife pathways for major roads and highways. Some very cool ideas. And in my feed at least, via ProgGrrl on Twitter, I found this interesting map showing where in the U.S. it make more sense to rent and where it makes more sense to buy. Culturally, of course, in the U.S. ownership is always assumed to be better.

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 – 22 December

A few interesting links before I begin working on a new “Worlds in Panels”:

Marguerite Reardon, yesterday on cnet, has a good overview of the new FCC rules regarding net neutrality. In the end, this looks like one of those political compromises that can be cast as the ‘right’ solution because no one is happy with it, but, in fact, no one is happy because the decision makes little sense as an approach to the problem at hand.

At The Unofficial Apple Weblog is speculation as to whether Apple will be a target of “Anonymous” now that the company has pulled the WikiLeaks app from the store. I am disappointed that this choice was made, but have long given up the illusion that just because I like their tech and design sensibilities that Apple is anything other than a profit-maximizing, risk-averse corporation.

In the cities and design realm, on Lost Remote, I saw this piece about interactive bus shelters in San Francisco. The article is really just a ‘teaser’ about the project, but I am certainly intrigued by the possibilities of using public space like this for social interaction and play.

In comics movie news:

  • At The Wild Hunt, Jason delivers the best response I have read to the racist furor over Idris Elba having been cast as Heimdall in the upcoming Thor movie (link via Ragnell on Twitter).
  • And this casting news, from MTV’s Splash Page, is something I like.

Finally, a Christmas memory from Kate Beaton.

Recommended daily reading – 17 November (been a week edition)

Here are a few items from the last few days:

On “She Has No Head!”, Kelly Thompson lists her twenty favorite female comics characters (link via Thompson’s blog). I think she makes good cases for all of the selections, but notable exclusions for me are: Kate Spencer/Manhunter, Helena Bertenelli/Huntress, Liz Sherman (B.P.R.D. and Hellboy), Tamsin from Skeleton Key, and Esther de Groot from Scary Go Round and Giant Days. If I were to really do this exercise, I would seriously consider Patsy Walker/Hellcat, Elsa Bloodstone (NEXT Wave), and Bethany Black (Strange Girl). I’m not sure if or how autobiographical characters fit into these kinds of discussions, but Marjane Satrapi would certainly make me want to think about it. As always, the tough question is who to take off of the original list.

Addendum: one of the fun and frustrating things about these lists is that once your brain starts working on them, it’s hard to let go. So, on further thought, Melaka Fray (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would likely be on my still hypothetical alternate selection, and it would be hard to leave off Hopey and Isabel from Love & Rockets, but not specifically as replacements for Maggie.

Torontoist has a feature on artist Sean Martindale’s urban art project that uses condo ads to make pup tents, a clever comment on housing and inequality and property rights and public space.

Finally, a cute, but kind of mournful looking, little treat from Renee French.

Recommended daily reading – 13 October (late edition)

Much to do the past few days, but here are some items I have been saving:

On the PopMatters “Marginal Utility” blog, Robert Horning has a post about his recent vacation to Winnipeg, Manitoba. His anecdote about Canadian border guards acting skeptical about people actually wanting to visit is true for me, too, and I’ve heard this attitude on my way to Vancouver BC, which, you would think would not generate much disbelief as a destination for international visitors. And, honestly, Winnipeg is a perfectly pleasant and interesting place; I understand why Horning feels, “strangely hesitant to recommend it to anyone”. Alas, for him, I think that Winnipeg is kind of an open secret at this point. After reading his blog post, read this from Kim Morgan.

Keeping with Canadian cities, Kevin Plummer on the Torontoist has a long essay on Goin’ Down the Road (1970), a film that is a fixture in the Canadian film canon, and one that I routinely screen in my Canadian film class. Whether the film’s stature says more about it or about the canon is one of the questions Plummer addresses, as well as how the movie got made, its themes and visual style, and reception. Ultimately, he chooses to see the film as a snapshot of late ’60s Toronto.

And, finally, a few comics related pieces:

  • On Acephalous, Scott Eric Kaufman has a short, but effective exercise on the power of authorship, text & image in comics using a single panel from Scott Pilgrim.
  • The oft-linked here Renee French has an interview at Robot 6 about her new book, H Day.
  • And Comics Alliance has news about Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle making way for Nick Spencer and Bernard Chang on Supergirl. I have been reading the new Supergirl in trade, while also going back to Peter David, and hope that the character is allowed to continue to develop on her own. Spencer is a writer that I have a love-hate relationship with. As in Forgetless, I think that he shows a strong sense of the current cultural moment, especially for young, urban creative types, but he also has a real taste for the seamier sides of human behavior. It will be interesting to see how his talents work on a title like Supergirl.

Recommended daily reading – 23 September

From today’s feeds (why I always end up with three, I don’t know):

From the Torontoist is a story about public space activists in Toronto seeking to claim bike lane space on a street that seems as if it should have more than it does. These kinds of creative responses to urban planning and design where formal institutions seem to fail are heartening and delightful.

On MoJo Wire, Jen Phillips points to a trailer for a documentary by model Sara Ziff that looks at the industry from the model’s perspective. It’s easy to make fun of or look down on models, what they do seems superficial and the compensation seems out of proportion to the work, especially given that the basic requirements for the job are all essentially genetic, but I have a sister in-law who modeled until fairly recently and I have always thought that the work is harder than it seems on the surface. In particular, the way that models are dehumanized as human clothes hangers bears critical consideration. It looks like Ziff’s film will shed light on this aspect of the work. taking models seriously as labor.

And lastly is a perfect little dog from renee french.