Geekiness

Call for Submissions: Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariat

SupermoiOkay, I have officially lost my mind. Here's what I hatched with a bunch of cronies over the weekend. We already have publisher interest. I am boggled. I think the project is suddenly taking on a life of its own. Get on board with us:

Call for Submissions: Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariat

The career of college professor, giving back to the society that provided for them through education, was once a respectable path to the middle class. That class position is now slipping through the hands of the very people who helped create it, thanks to the erosion of tenured and tenure-track positions in favor of short-term contract positions without security. What should be rags to riches stories about the power of education to lift people out of poverty by providing a pathway to better jobs have become, for many academics, stories of stagnation, downward mobility, and outright impoverishment under the burden of massive debt uncompensated for by the very academy that helped contract faculty incur it.

Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariate will be a collection of voices from the world of so-called adjunct or contract college instructors who now teach 60-75% of all college courses in the United States and are paid wages equivalent to Walmart workers. In the tradition of Studs Terkel’s Working, Teaching Poor will honor both the difficulties and the triumphs of this new class of impoverished white collar laborers in the academic trenches, detailing personal struggles with the resultant poverty produced by low wages, crushing student loan debt, lack of healthcare and retirement provisions, and the professional and cultural costs this system levies on individuals and the students they teach.

I welcome creative non-fiction, biographical essay, short stories, poems, comics and, in the spirit of hacking the academy through digital humanities, may eventually expand to multimedia and a permanent archive of work similar to Story Corps.

This project is in its very early stages and I’m looking to see what kind of interest there is both in contributors and publishers before defining it or looking into other funding/publishing sources. I have publishers in mind (AK, Haymarket, Soft Skull, Atropos, Verso, ILR, Atticus, Riverhead), but also welcome suggestions. I do want this to be more than a self-published ebook though, and perhaps something truly groundbreaking if we can make a collaboration work.

Send your queries and submissions to Lee Kottner at teachingpoor@gmail.com.


poetry: fail; criticism: win

Swordplayforeplay So the poetry muse has given me the big finger for the last two days and I've fallen behind the poem-a-day. Today's prompt was to write about a routine or routines in general. I should have written about grading papers, because that's what I done today. I got all but three graded for my Modes class, and still have a smallish pile for the Logic bit. But in the meanwhile, there's a fascinating discussion of story and meta and criticism, and fannish appropriation as art over on my pal Gloriana's LJ. Having graded papers all day, and struggled mightily to get my students to read deeper, I dived in with my thoughts on teaching people to do criticism. Go take a look if this sort of thing intereests you. It's sparked by this fan video by Lim, which is on display in a group exhibition in a museum in Riverside, CA. The video, if you are the fannish sort, is a piece of genius. As Gloriana says, it is,

full of the meta, about ourselves as pirates and thieves, done with nods to many fandoms (and, of course, the more of them you understand, the better the vid); and in particular, ending with the clips from 'V for Vendetta', which speak about the power of the anonymous mass to dispense with tyranny. (Or at least, that's one message you can take from it).

If you're not the fannish sort, I'd be interested to know what you make of it.



Us - lim


poetry month!

Writer Moi It's Poetry Month, peeps, and somehow, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and signed up to write a poem a day, from prompts, over at Writer's Digest's blog Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer. Tonight I'm frantically composing at the last minute because I had a long day teaching and grading papers. There will be an instant replay tomorrow night, probably, but here's the first one, anyway. It's an origin poem, as per the prompt.  I thought, what the hell? Why not go for the ultimate origin? So I've committed science poetry. Be merciful; it's a first draft.

Start Here


It always starts with light
real and metaphor:
a minuscule point
floating
in the deeps,
one moment quiescent,
the next—
the universe
cracks open.
Fractions later, the shrapnel flies
at the speed limit of sight,
us and anti-us,
bangs around like bumblebees in a bottle
(those will come much later)
smashing itself
back to nothing first, then
smaller, hotter, faster, fortunately
more us than anti.
Baryons
shimmer into being,
condensing like raindrops
(again, much later). The universe
quarks.
A chill sets in, the particles dance
for warmth, and couple
the way everything does
in long, cold nights.
Hadrons and leptons snuggle;
deuterium is born,
grows up to be hydrogen.
Soon there’s a periodic family
at the table.

In the space of
a hundred breaths:
light and matter, and
all that matters.

© Lee Kottner, 2009

This poem brought to you courtesy of Chris LaRocco's and Blair Rothstein's Big Bang Page over at U of M. Meaning that's where I got my quick and dirty summary of the aforementioned events.


thought for the day

Badgirl Moi I thought maybe I'd start sharing some of my favorite quotations. I've amassed quite a few and what's the point if I don't share them? So probably once a week or so, I'll drop one of these in here. I'm sort of working my way backwards on the list, as this is one of the most recent ones, which I've taken from Neal Stephenson's most recent novel Anathem, strangely appropriate to the present economy:

Fraa Erasmus (a cosmologist): "I always tend to assume there's an infinite amount of money out there."

"There might as well be," [Fraa] Arsibalt said, "but most of it gets spent on pornography, sugar water, and bombs."


Ouch.


I'm a science blogger! How'd that happen?

CocktailphysicsmoiLost my mind? Moi? What makes you think that? Oh, the other new blog? Oh it's not such a big deal. Well, actually, it is. It's kinda huge, really. Since my friend Jen started her blog Cocktail Party Physics, I've been guest posting over there every now and then, writing mostly on science fiction and its themes and relevance to science geekdom. Now, Jen's turning her blog into a group blog, and I've been asked to be a regular contributor. I'm so flattered! You won't believe the company I'm keeping! Along with Jen, I'll be blogging with  Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, author of The Physics of NASCAR; M.G. Lord, author of Astro Turf: The Private Life of Rocket Science; Allyson Beatrice, author of Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby?; and budding science writer Calla Cofield.

My first post went up today and I'll probably be posting once a week or so. It's full of sciency goodness, so if you're interested, pop over and take a look!


One World, One Web

Owd_web_button_150

Today is One Web Day, which is sort of like Earth Day for the Web. I'm blogging about it because (a) the web has become a huge part of my life and (b) it's facing some dangerous challenges right now that I think are important to address. Without the web, I would not have found the community of book artists whose work has inspired me so much in the past couple of years. Without the web, I would not have been able to learn as much on my own as easily as I have. Sure, there are always books, but where else can you find videos and attend workshops in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home, for free or a nominal fee?

I would not have the network of fellow fans to read and post fiction with, or the outlets of my two blogs for my own writing. At least a couple of my poems would not have seen the light of day if not for the Web journals that published them. My first piece of professional fiction was published by a webzine, Strange Horizons. I can't even begin to list the things I've learned about on the Web from bookbinding techniques to Zen Buddhism practices. Not to mention how easy the Internet has made it to keep up with my far-flung network of friends, or the new friends I've made because of it.

Sadly, if Big Business has its way, all that may change. I'll let SaveTheInternet.com explain:

Continue reading "One World, One Web" »


Isn't This an Oxymoron?

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Social Nerd
 

You're interested in things such as politics, psychology, child care, and peace. I wouldn't go so far as to call you a hippie, but some of you may be tree-huggers. You're the type of people who are interested in bettering the world. You're possible the least nerdy of them all; unless you participate in other activies that paled your nerdiness compared to your involvement in social activities. Whatever the case, we could still use more of you around.  ^_^

Literature Nerd
 
Drama Nerd
 
Science/Math Nerd
 
Artistic Nerd
 
Musician
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Continue reading "Isn't This an Oxymoron?" »


Science Book Meme

CocktailphysicsmoiMy friend Jen over at Cocktail Party Physics has jumped into the meme-creation business by posting this pop-sci book meme she created in response to a request for recommendations. Jen has become way geekier than I am in recent years, so she's read a lot of stuff I haven't (a perk of being a professional science writer) but the list she's come up with is great and totally puts me to shame. It's physics heavy, but part of the instructions include adding your own, so this gives us the opportunity to broaden out the base.  Here we go:

1. Bold those you've read in full
2. Asterisk those you intend to read
3. Add any additional popular science books you think belong on the list
4. Link back to me (leave links or suggested additions in the comments, if you prefer) so I can keep track of everyone's additions. Then we can compile it all into one giant "Top 100" popular science books list, with room for honorable mentions. (I, for one, have some quirky choices in the list below.) Voila! We'll have awesome resource for general readers interested in delving into the fascinating world of science!

0. Principia, Isaac Newton

Oh, just kidding. Granted, it's an influential work that pretty much founded modern physics, but has anybody read the Principia in its entirety lately? Really? How about De Revolutionibus? If so, do you not have a life? Seriously, Newton would turn over in his grave in horror at any inclusion of his masterpiece in a list of popular science books. Which is why I'm starting with....

 

Continue reading "Science Book Meme" »


Archaeology, Science, Beer

Beermug_moiJen and I had a great conversation recently about the pervasiveness of science in our lives. It really is everywhere: your furniture (engineering in the milling of the pieces and metal that connects it), the obvious places like your computer and media, textiles (weaving and spinning were some of the earliest technologies); the paint on your walls (chemistry); your transportation (engineering and physics); most of our jobs involve some kind of science, even if we're only pushing electronic paper (computer science). Even agriculture is a science: fertilizers, crop rotation, planting and harvesting technologies.

Then there's beer.

Ben Franklin's assertion that "beer is the proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" goes farther than any number of scriptures in proving His existence to my mind (even though the quote itself may be a fake). And the quest for substances to "make us happy" has a led to a lot of scientific advancements, not the least of which is basic chemistry (One of my favorite breweries, Magic Hat, actually has a brew called Chaotic Chemistry). Beer is based on the chemical transformation of starch and sugars into alcohol through the use of biological agents (yeast). The fermentation still is one of humanity's greatest inventions, right up there with fire and the wheel, in my personal opinion.

There are scholars who actually spend time studying the history of beer and brewing (why didn't I know these people in college? More importantly, why didn't I grow up to be one of them?) Irishmen Declan Moore and Billy Quinn are two of them, and they set out to discover how Bronze Age Irishmen might have brewed up their IPAs. "This quest" they say in their very important article, "took us to Barcelona to the Congres Cerveza Prehistorica, [this sounds even better than the Medievalists' bash in Kalamazoo which is always a big party, and how did I miss this on my trip to Barcelona?] and later one evening in Las Ramblas in the company of, among others, an international beer author, an award winning short story writer, a world renowned beer academic ["Beer academic"?!? You mean that's a job description? Not a foible? Damn. . . .] and a Canadian Classical scholar - all of whom shared our passion for the early history of beer." Here's Dec and Billy's demo and tasting party, complete with grilled dead pig. Sláinte! And happy Fourth to all you Budweiser-swilling, grilling patriots, carrying on the long tradition of beer and pig-roast.

[Thanks to North Atlantic Skyline for the tip]