Monthly Archives: January 2009

Censorship in Nigeria

One of my former students, Carmen McCain, continues her great work in confronting censorship policies in Nigeria, policies which are at least partially attendant on the implementation of sharia law in Islamic areas of Nigeria.  Carmen graduated from Messiah several years ago, has been a fullbright scholar, a graduate student at Wisconsin, an actress, writer, and activist.  She was Messiah’s distinguished young alumnus a couple of years back.  If you can support her work in any way, there’s contact information at her blog.

Scott McClemee on Rene Girard on Reading and Writing

Scott McLemee cites the following from Rene Girard

“And yet our cultural world is a far cry from Elizabethan England or la cour et la ville in seventeenth-century France. There is a reason for this, so simple and yet so obvious that no one ever mentions it. At the time of Elizabeth and Louis, one percent, perhaps, of the educated people were producers, and ninety-nine percent were consumers. With us, the proportion is curiously reversed. We are supposed to live in a world of consumerism, but in the university there are only producers. We are under a strict obligation to write, and therefore we hardly have the time to read one another’s work. It is very nice, when you give a lecture, to encounter someone who is not publishing, because perhaps that person has not only enough curiosity but enough time to read your books.”

Yes, I think this is right, and perhaps not only in academe.  I’ve mentioned before that I get a fair number of students who are interested in writing stories or poems, but don’t have much interest in reading anything.  How this comes to pass is beyond me, and it seems vaguely narcissistic.  We want desperately to express ourselves–and thus the triumph of blogging–but we have little interest in the expression of others.

Happy Anniversary to Me

Ok, this really happened a couple of days ago since I think I started this blog on January 3rd, a year ago.  In the interim I’ve had a few more than 52,000 hits, well beyond my wildest dreams. I think starting out I was thrilled to get ten people a day dropping by.  Now I’m depressed when I have less than 100 hits, although I realize that 52,000 ain’t squat compared to a lot of people who blog.

Clearly the vast majority of my hits were interested in the politically oriented blogs, so it’s probably fair to say that people are much more interested in reading when it is being done by Barack Obama or John McCain than when it is being done by me.  Also, general browsers are very interested in movies, judging by the random hits I get off of Google.  I don’tknow if all of this confirms my general theses concerning reading in America, since I’m not absolutely sure I’ve my general theses, but there you have it anyway.

Totally Pointless New Year’s Resolutions

Ok, I’ve been away from this so long that I feel I owe somebody an explanation, although I think my blog stats suggest that no one really cares that I haven’t been posting for more than two months.  I’ve got a lot of really good excuses.  First would be I’ve been REALLY REALLY BUSY.  But I was busy before, so that one doesn’t wash entirely.  Though, to be frank, it is the case that administrative work takes more takes more time and energy than I ever used to have to give to anything.  Still, I think it’s really more the case that I just lost some of my blogging mojo, not really thinking I had much worthwhile to say and not really having much interest in saying it.  This is a poor excuse since i started out thinking of this thing as just an interesting way to keep writing even if a lot of it was really bad and pointless.  It is however, the best excuse I have.

In any case, on to my totally impossible and pointless new year’s resolutions.  My first goal is to make resolutions I know will be impossible to keep because I will then feel less bad about breaking them.

I Resolve to Write on my Blog at least once a week–Actually this seems doable.  Why not.  No one says I have to be original or even interesting.

I Resolve to lose 60 pounds–Ok, this is what Oprah and I really need to do, but is beyond the realm of reality.  Still, maybe if I say sixty I’ll actually get to thirty.

I Resolve to read one book a week–totally implausible, but why not fanatasize.

I Resolve to be a better husband and father–this one is really safe because if my kids refuse to say that I have achieved this goal I can cut off their allowance and send them to bed without supper.  Ok, they are far too big for me to send them to bed without supper, but I could threaten.  As for my wife, well, maybe she will humour me.

I Resolve to regularly attend church–always good to have a resolution that you are already achieving.

I Resolve to give up smoking–always good to have a resolution to give up something that you don’t actually do.

Ok, enough.  Some good things that I have done in the past two months–

1. Wept on election night in November while watching the victory speech.

2.  Wept several days thereafter upon watching reruns of the victory speech.

3. Read several books–maybe I’ll talk more about them later.

4. Visited Pagosa Springs Colorado–in fact, I’m sitting in the Albuquerque airport at the moment writing this blog.

5. Started working out again after a two month hiatus–makes me feel better about overeating.  Also makes me feel better about going to the gym on January 2nd.  I won’t have to feel like one of those folks that joins the gym in January and lasts for two week

There’s more, but that’s all I can come up with for now.