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.

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 – 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.)

Recommended daily reading – 7 December (finals week edition)

A few notes as I await the deluge of papers:

On Reassigned Time 2.0, Dr. Crazy has a personal view on why she is not interested in moving from faculty to administration. I can only say, “yes”, to what she writes, but I also appreciate how she manages to explain her own thoughts and feelings without tearing down those who are interested in becoming department chairs, or even moving higher up in the hierarchy. I should add that I have to be department chair in geography every six years or so, but the kind of position Crazy is writing about is more akin to what are “division chairs” at Western. Department chair is not a ‘real’ administrative position at my school, and like most faculty, in geography we just rotate every two years and everyone takes a turn. There are certain pieces of paper we have to sign, we are often the first contact for potential majors and minors, etc., but we are mostly interlocuters for the actual administrators than we are administrators ourselves.

Following up on my last Recommended daily reading post, I notice that the current focus on the humanities as a place to cut back on higher education budgets is continuing to get push back, which is heartening. Inside Higher Ed notes a campaign in Ireland to see the humanities as a tool for economic growth, while at Crooked Timber is an announcement of Dutch-government funded initiatives in inter- and multi-disciplinary programs in the humanities.

On Robot 6 is a discussion of Creative Commons and comic book characters. I am encouraged to see comic book creators thinking about these issues. Given the economics of comics, and how readily the medium lends itself to digital, it probably isn’t a surprise that writers and artists in the field would be out in front on thinking about copyright in nuanced ways.

And last, two drawings from Renee French, a nervous looking rodent and a sort of Cthulu-like character.

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 – 9 October (heavy on comics edition)

Some items from the last few days:

First, a couple of past due pointers. On Motley Fool an article about Warren Buffett advocating for higher taxes on the super-wealthy, like himself. That’s not so surprising, but the civilized debate in comments is (at least when I last checked). And then on The American Prospect a report about for-profit colleges and their success in lobbying progressive Democrats to forestall student loan reform.

Now, comics.

  • A wicked fun and intriguing reveal in last Friday’s FreakAngels.
  • A vintage, early 80s, panel of Storm on ComicPunx (and, yeah, the site likes to point out the absurdity of a lot of these images, but as A said when I showed her this, “That’s Storm? Why can’t she always look like that?” And it should be noted that Marvel allowed this transformation at a time when it was still culturally relevant – not saying it was edgy, only that punk was hardly passe or mainstream at the time).
  • And a tired or sad-looking rabbit-y thing from Renee French.

Lastly, not a comic, but comics related. OPB’s Oregon Art Beat has a feature on Periscope Studio. I interviewed a number of Periscope members for my documentary, and I think this segment does a good job of conveying the current state of comics art for a broad audience. It takes the studio and the professionals who work there seriously, in the best sense of that word; the piece itself is pretty lighthearted.

Watch here, or from the Periscope blog.