Welcome to my blog.
This space is for occasional postings on topics that interest me. At the moment, it consists largely articles on specific topics in using Linux in my daily life as a researcher, teacher, and human being (largely so I won’t forget what I did to get things running). But I’m hoping to expand it to cover more of my pedagogy and reading soon. Research topics seem less relevant, since they already have fora for publication—and their own section on this website
Please feel free to comment on these posts.
Last modified: Wednesday February 19, 2014. 16:08 (MST)(read more..)
Last modified: Wednesday February 19, 2014. 16:08 (MST)(read more..)
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Why doesn't anybody ever tell you this stuff? On the origins of the masculine and feminine pronouns.(read more..)
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My wife, Inge Genee, and I have moved house nine times in our life together.
In most cases, this involved a move across water: New Haven to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge back to Amsterdam, a summer in Toronto, Amsterdam to York, York to Lethbridge, and twice within Lethbridge.
Especially during our transatlantic moves, we became very adept at minimal packing. Nobody was paying for our moves and, since we had no money, we moved each time with what we could bring with our airline baggage allowance: 32 kilo per bag, two bags per person (most of our moves were in the 1990s, when this was standard across all airlines).
We had a basic procedure we followed, especially on moves from Amsterdam to North America (we had a long term lease on an apartment in Amsterdam and so, apart from a few things I had in storage in Toronto, we left our bulky things there): we’d fill our four suitcases with 128 killos of books, throw some absolutely necessary clothes into our carry on luggage, and head off to the airport. When we got to the other end, we’d rent a furnished apartment and then head to the local Walmart or similar type of store to buy any additional things we needed.
In other words, our most important possessions were our books.(read more..)
Last modified: Saturday January 25, 2014. 14:32 (MST)
Schuman is right that we need to get rid of the "College Paper." But wrong when she blames her students for not being able to write them. The "College Paper" has always been an exercise in futility
Rebecca Schuman is right. We do need to get rid of the college paper. But not because our students are too stupid to do them. “The college paper” is a peculiarly North American exercise that has never done what it is supposed to do. Students have never been able to write them and we should stop asking them to.(read more..)
Last modified: Saturday January 25, 2014. 14:33 (MST)
I’ve used blogs in most of my classes for the last seven or eight years. I find them to be a superb teaching tool, both as a way of teaching students to research, think, and write about the subjects they are studying and as a means of modulating my instruction to match a given class’s strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve been told by some colleagues that they’ve found it difficult to integrate blogs into their classes effectively. They’ve find it difficult to get decent participation, find the blogs to be not very informative, and wish that their students would engage with each other’s work more deeply.
I’ve not had any of these problems (well, perhaps the participation rate has been weaker that I might wish in one or two classes). On the whole, I find that students participate regularly in the assignment, that they are enthusiastic about it and understand its relevance to their learning, and are willing to engage with each other’s work. And, at their best, my students’ blogs contain some of their very best writing—in some cases far better than they hand in other contexts.
I believe that some of this success comes from the way I handle blogs in my classes. And, since I haven’t come across anybody who does exactly what I do, I thought I would explain my technique here so that others can use it.(read more..)
Last modified: Saturday January 25, 2014. 14:34 (MST)
APC charges are basically a subscription charge that preserves all the bad things about paywalled access to knowledge and preserve none of the good. Here’s why we need to get rid of them.(read more..)
Last modified: Saturday January 25, 2014. 14:35 (MST)
Seymour Hersh in Salon today about the problem with “report the debate” journalism:
“Our job [as journalists] is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues,” Hersh said. “That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardizes, it raises risks….”
And his solution:
“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.
Mutatis mutandis, I suspect much the same problem and much the same solution is true of Universities as well.(read more..)
Last modified: Saturday January 25, 2014. 14:36 (MST)
Il vaut le voyage: Borges, Jane Austen, Gus van Sant, and the Zombies, or, Truth is stranger than fiction
I’m slowly working my way through the collected fictions of Borges (in translation, unfortunately), and loving it. I’d never read much of him before, but he’s rapidly becoming a favorite.
Right now I’m reading “Pierre Menard, Author of The Quixote,” which is about a minor authors whose greatest work was that he set about to recreate, word for word, several chapters from Don Quixote. The joke is basically a variant on the monkeys and Shakespeare except with a bit of direction. Menard’s idea is that he is going to set down to write the Quixote, not copy it, and produce it word for word.(read more..)
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Some great columns on the current funding crisis in Alberta's Post Secondary Education sector by the University of Lethbridge's outgoing Dean of Arts and Science(read more..)
Last modified: Thursday May 2, 2013. 23:43 (MDT)
The meteor has struck. The dust is in the air. Let's leave the dinosaurs to their fate and concentrate on the mammals: Notes on the New Humanities.(read more..)
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What the University of Lethbridge's short list of candidates for Dean of Arts and Science says about it as an institution(read more..)
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Last modified: Sunday September 23, 2012. 00:01 (MDT)
Like many Digital Humanists, I use twitter a lot: for communicating with colleagues, the general public, and my students. Like most users of twitter (certainly most academics, I suspect), my most common type of tweet is probably one in which I share a resource I have come across—a book, article, website, project, etc. Since I use our university’s Moodle installation to store resources for my students, it would be quite useful to be able to capture a Twitter feed inside our Moodle class space. This post shows how to do it.(read more..)
Last modified: Wednesday September 12, 2012. 15:14 (MDT)
Some reminders about basic dump and restore for MySQL.(read more..)
Last modified: Monday August 27, 2012. 14:00 (MDT)
For most of the last century, university researchers have been evaluated on their ability to “write something and get it into print… ‘publish or perish’” (as Logan Wilson put it as early as 1942 in The Academic Man: A Study in the Sociology of a Profession, one of the first print citations of the term).
As you might expect, the development of a reward system built on publication led to a general increase in number of publications.(read more..)
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 21:15 (MDT)
This is just a reminder to myself about setting up a Yii install. There are much more detailed examples on the web.(read more..)
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In the controllers established by gii, yii’s scaffolding tool, there is a standard method called accessRules() that defines what users can do what actions.(read more..)
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 18:48 (MDT)
As the title suggests(read more..)
Last modified: Thursday June 7, 2012. 13:28 (MDT)(read more..)
Last modified: Tuesday November 22, 2011. 21:39 (MST)
We are trying to build a single stylesheet to work with the documents of two independent journals. In order to get a sense of the work involved, we wanted to create a catalogue of all elements used in the published articles. This means loading as input document directories’ worth of files and then going through extracting and sorting the elements across all the input documents.
Here’s the stylesheet that did it for us. It is probably not maximally optimised, but it currently does what we need.(read more..)
Last modified: Wednesday May 23, 2012. 19:38 (MDT)(read more..)
Last modified: Tuesday October 11, 2011. 02:00 (MDT)