It’s About Guns! Don’t Be Distracted.

After a mass shooting such as the atrocious crime committed in Parkland, Florida yesterday, a familiar process begins in the media, both mass and social, and in politics. There are expressions of outrage at the nature of the crime and the fact that it wasn’t prevented, and there are expressions of sadness at the lives lost, and of support and sympathy for the families of those killed, and for those injured in the attacks. This is as it should be. When this goes away it will be because we have grown so used two such attacks that they no longer make an impression on us.

There is also a desperate search for motives and for answers to why and how a crime of this kind can happen. Continue reading

Who was using Archnet at 3:15 pm EST on February 16?

Analytics at 3:15 pm on February 16, 2018

It’s fascinating to watch Archnet‘s real-time statistics in Google Analytics. There’s no reason why I need to monitor the statistics in real-time, but it is definitely interesting to see how many people are using the site and any specific time, where they are from, and what they are looking at.

Yesterday afternoon was interesting.  When I checked in just after 3:00 pm EST, there were 21 users on Archnet from 11 different countries, as shown in the screen capture. Our visitor numbers can vary significantly depending on the time of day, but in general it stays pretty busy from noon to about 20:00 hours GMT. In general Archnet gets the most visitors from India, the United States, and Egypt, in that order. So it follows that these would be our busiest time.  12:00 GMT is 14:00 in Cairo, 07:00 in Boston, and 17:30 in Mumbai.  Continue reading

Architectural Photography in Black and White

photos by Luis Monreal, 2005

For the last Archnet update I chose black and white photographs by Luis Monreal of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, India, and the Great Mosque in Djenné, Mali. Most of the black and white or monochrome images in Archnet are historical taken before the dawn of color photography, but these are relatively recent, taken in 2005. I chose those images in part because using monochrome photographs in the background of Archnet homepages really helps to highlight content on the tiles sliding across the screen, but also because I find them particularly appealing.

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Genuflecting and the National Anthem

Last week Donald Trump tweeted 

Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable

This statement puzzles me. Though I am not a religious man, I was raised Roman Catholic. Lots of people make jokes about the transitions between sitting, standing, and kneeling that are part of the Catholic Mass being a strategy to keep worshippers awake throughout the service, but in fact gestures and physical actions have meaning in the Catholic Church, just they do in most faith traditions. A 2002 document from the Catholic Diocese of Worcester explains the significance of some of these gestures.  Continue reading

Heritage: What to do about Monument Avenue

I’ve been following the debate over Monument Avenue with great interest. I was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. I’ve lived in a few places since leaving home for graduate school, but Virginia is, and always will be home.

I’m proud of my state and its heritage, but there’s also a lot to be ashamed of, and there’s no use denying it. Virginia has a sordid and long history of slavery and civil rights violations. There are many who celebrate its role as Capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, but I am not one of them. I am fascinated by the history of the Civil War, but I recognize that it was a secessionist rebellion.

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Presidential Behavior

Yesterday realDonalTrump tweeted, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Dear Mr. President,

Regardless of how you feel about Judge James L. Robart’s ruling, or how incorrect you think it may be, you should show some respect, just as I have done you by referring to you as Mr. President.  I did not vote for you, and I am deeply concerned that you have acted against the best interests of our nation, perhaps even illegally in several actions you have taken since assuming office.  But I also recognize that you are the President because of your victory in the Electoral College, and the other of office you took in January.

You should show Judge Robart the same courtesy.  His not a “so-called judge”; he is a judge. To be precise, he is a US Federal Judge for the US District Court in Washington State, nominated by George W. Bush in 2003, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2004. Ruling against your executive order does not abrogate this. He is and will remain a judge until he resigns, becomes incapacitated, or is impeached.

You must stop acting like a reality TV star. For better or worse, you are the President of the United States, now. It is not acceptable for you to personally attack a judge. I happen to think Judge Robart’s verdict was completely correct, and that he was right to put a stop on enforcement of your order.  I do not believe your order was constitutional. Moreover, it was sloppily and inhumanely executed. Nonetheless, I recognize that you have every right to use the bully pulpit the Presidency affords you to criticize the verdict.  You may launch a judicial challenge to the verdict, or call on the Congress to change the law so that your order will comply. But it is completely unacceptable that you challenge the legitimacy of the court simply because the judge disagreed with you.

Your criticism of the judge is completely consistent with your criticism of national icons, celebrities, law-makers, and even private citizens who disagree with your position.  That may have been effective for you in your business interactions, but it is not presidential behavior. No other president in my lifetime has proven as petulant, vindictive, and childish!



Is it only journalists who care about the President’s tax returns?

All traces of the Obama Administration and it’s agenda have been removed from the White House web site. The Wayback Machine indicates the same thing happened on January 22, 2009, so I suppose this is the norm, but it seems very strange to me.  Completely obliterating traces of the previous regime is something I’d expect from an authoritarian or totalitarian regime. In the US the Presidency changes hands, and it comes under the control of the leaders of opposing parties, but there is continuity in the office. Shouldn’t the White House web site better reflect this?

Perhaps the most strange to me is the removal of the petitions on the “We the People” page in the site, including petitions that had not yet reached their target.  There are already two new petitions, though. One calls on President Trump to immediately release his full tax returns, and the other calls on him to divest from or put in a blind trust all his business and financial assets. Both were added today, but as I write this, the petition calling for releasing his tax returns already has over 10,000 signatures.  Strange, since the President claims only journalists care about his taxes!

Now the Donald Trump is the President, it seems to me more urgent than ever that we know exactly what his financial interests are.


CLIR Report on NITLE

Logo designed by Khaled Al-Saai

I finally read through this report on NITLE (the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education), and I must say I agree with most of it’s findings.  It is a thorough survey of what was accomplished and what is needed. Thanks are due to Jason Brodeur, Morgan Daniels, Annie Johnson, Natsuko Nicholls, Sarah Pickle, and Elizabeth A. WaraksaI, as well as all who participated in the surveys they conducted, for this job well done.

I was very proud of my involvement in NITLE, which started our as a visionary organization, assisting member institutions to be forward looking and to think big about what they could accomplish. I was Program Director of NITLE’s Al-Musharaka Initiative, which is mentioned early in the report. I am immensely proud of my involvement with that project. Our focus really was on building community, facilitating collaboration, and fostering intellectual exchange, not just across institutions, but also across sectors within the academic community.  Much of what has been published about the initiative focusing on the Arab Culture and Civilization Online Resource (the ACC site), one of our first projects, but it was really the collaborative projects that were the most interesting and produced the most exciting results.  Continue reading

Bikes in Massachusetts (Mostly Cambridge) & Northern Virginia

I’m not sure why I am so interested in taking pictures of bicycles.  Maybe it is because I really enjoy bicycling, but don’t get to do it enough.  For whatever reason, when I pass ones that that is interesting or aesthetically pleasing during the course of my day, I take pictures.

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