New Book: Spring and Summer at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace

Spring and Summer at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace is a collection of images and texts from the year I spent as an Americorps volunteer in Hillsboro, WV.  I’d like to think the text and images speak for themselves, but the book wouldn’t exist at all if weren’t for the initiative and efforts of Martin Magee, who edited the volume.  He saw something worth collecting in my work, and he had the will and persistence to push this project through to completion.  I hope you will check out the book!

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SAR Academic Freedom Media Review, March 31-April 6, 2012

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

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Faculty union launches bid to shield Attaran
Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen, 4/6

A Call to Respect Rights
Mitch Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 4/6

Don’t Touch My Textbook
Mitch Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 4/6

Amnesty International Urges Sudan to Release Student Activist
Salma El Wardany, Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/6

Ai Weiwei Ordered to Stop Self-Surveillance
Josh Chi, The Wall Street Journal, 4/5
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CAIR Asks South Dakota Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill

No Bigotry in Our LawsCAIR Asks South Dakota Governor to Veto Anti-Sharia Bill.

Have you heard about this bill?  Well it’s pissing me off and South Dakota isn’t the only state with one in process!  I urge you to click on the link above and read what the Council on  American-Islamic Relations has to say about it.  I’m not angry about it because  it once again demonstrates the appalling lack of understanding and intolerable amount of prejudice must be endured by Muslims in the United States. That deeply saddens me more than it pisses me off.  As an educator, I will do my best to fight against this kind of ignorance.    Americans are innately curious and open-minded, there is simply so much misinformation that has  so massively skewed perceptions.

I am annoyed, ok a little pissed off, that not only South Dakota, but approximately two dozen other state legislatures are wasting time on such frivolous bills when there are so many other pressing issues facing the states and our nation as a whole.  What’s all this talk I keep hearing about budget crunches,  fiscal austerity, and cutbacks?  Both Virginia and West Virginia have debated this kind of a law, as well.  These people, our elected representatives, don’t even understand our system of government, it seems. They pass frivolous, unnecessary legislation to prevent things that are already impossible, instead of dealing with real issues.

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The Diva and the Army Private

To the author of the following Facebook post:

Whitney Houston had a drug problem, went to rehab, died in her bathtub and got recognized on the news and internet. NJ governor ordered the flags half mast on Saturday as a tribute to Whitney. 24 year old Army Pfc. Cesar Cortez, assigned to 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Fort Bliss, Texas, died the exact same day serving during Operation Enduring Freedom and I, personally, haven’t heard his name until now. If you believe that the people who are dying daily for your and my freedom are the true American heroes and deserve more respect than any celebrity, then copy and post.

I am declining to repost this on my Facebook page.  It is a mean and faulty argument that unnecessarily brings two very different issues into competition.  But before I explain that, let me point out that it makes an absolute and prejudicial statement that you cannot possibly know is true, and that I wouldn’t repost without changing that anyway.  It’s the concluding statement that’s the problem.  As a teacher of writing I tell my students to try and avoid absolute statements unless they are sure they are true.

An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Pfc. Cesar Cortez Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, Cortez, 24, of Oceanside, Calif. , died Feb. 11, 2012 in Bahrain.

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SAR Academic Freedom Media Review – January 7-13, 2012

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

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Texas Can Regulate Secular Matters at Religious Colleges, Opinion Says
Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/13

US teachers offered support for climate change lessons
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 1/13

Free Speech and (Offensive) Art
Daniel Grant, Inside Higher Ed, 1/13

Stormy waters ahead as ‘disruptive forces’ sweep the old guard
Sarah Cunnane, Times Higher Education, 1/12

Independence, transparency key to research work of ESRI
Frances Ruane, The Irish Times, 1/12

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Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security May Deserve Neither, but for Profits… That’s the American Way

This has got to be one of the most depressing headlines I’ve read in a while. That we are willing to compromise civil liberties for security in a post 9/11 world was unsettling enough, but at least understandable.  Fear is a powerful motivator.  But to give up civil liberties simply to protect corporate profits?  That is shocking, unacceptable and un-American!  Patrick Henry must be rolling in his grave.

2011: The Year Intellectual Property Trumped Civil Liberties

Do the Mashable Awards Matter?

Mashable.com is an outstanding source of news about social media, and I read it daily.  The Mashable Awards, on the other hand, are considerably less useful.  They used to be more so, but perhaps the pace of major new developments in social media and mobile computing has slowed quite a bit and competition is less stiff, but the winners this year, for the most part, inspire a big yawn.  I’d argue they’ve become the People’s Choice Awards of Social Media, awards that go to predictable recipients.  They’ve even got their own MashBash gala in Vegas.  (It’s sure to be a blast and I wish I could go, but it’s hard not to poke fun at it, since I’m using this metaphor.)

At the risk of sounding like an elitist, the People’s Choice Awards are really nothing more than a reiteration of what we already know from other sources.  They tell us that the public really liked certain artists, movies, records, tv shows, etc., last year and that they spent money because of it.  They are a popularity contest. Someone receives an award for “Best” Whatever, but it is really an award for Best Selling  or Most Popular Whatever.

Has it become the same with the Mashable Awards?  Is Facebook really the “Best Social Network” or is it merely far too many times larger than it’s nearest competitors for any other network to gather nearly enough votes?  When voting for a winner is open to the general public, how can anything but the the most popular apps and sites win?  Check out the winners in all the categories and decide for yourself.  Let me know what you think.  Do you agree with them?  Where do you go for the most reliable evaluations of Social Media or mobile apps?

I’m Sorry Facebook, I Just Don’t Love You Anymore…

In an article previewing the changes Facebook recently made public, Mashable’s Ben Parr indicated that Facebook was making the changes because it wanted to rekindle an emotional connection with users.

After years of dating, the magic between Facebook and its users has dissipated. It’s a natural evolution in any relationship, but now there is another suitor vying for Facebook’s users. And a lot of people think this suitor is easy on the eyes.
That’s why Facebook launched three recent changes: revamped Friend Lists, a real-time news ticker, and the subscribe button… But these changes are just the beginning. The changes Facebook will roll out on Thursday are designed to enhance the emotional connection its users have to each other through Facebook.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but this strategy isn’t working for me! My relationship with Facebook has never gotten old because like an insecure lover, it’s never stopped demanding my attention, to the point of provoking annoyance. I’ve given it a lot of attention, integrating it into my professional and personal lives, but it’s proven unpredictable, unsure of the terms under which it wants to participate. It’s time to cool things off. Since Facebook has so few concerns about private affairs going public, how would you like to read my Dear John Letter to Facebook?
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Academic Freedom Media Review, March 5-11, 2011

Compiled by Scholars at Risk

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available at here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

Presidential duress: fears for Belarusian academic freedom
Colin Graham, Times Higher Education, 3/10

CHINA: Unrest fears prompt alert at universities
Yojana Sharma, University World News, 3/10

Virginia Supreme Court Will Hear Appeal of Climate-Papers Case
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/10

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SAR Academic Freedom Media Review: 26 February – 4 March 2011

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.

Censorship or a Mirage?
Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, 3/4

The man from Kyrgyzstan
Corydon Ireland, Harvard Gazette, 3/3

‘Suspect’ Offa letter threatens sector’s freedom
Rebecca Attwood, Times Higher Education, 3/3

Academic Freedom and the Corporate University
Bill Gleason, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/3

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