The Season of Giving and Adventure

I'm temporarily de-cloaking the colleague I call "Marshall" to ask you more directly to help him on his journey. He has been rather suddenly asked to help a documentary film crew go to Sudan to document the return journey of one of the Lost Boys. If you can help, please do. It's totally legit.

Dear family and friends,

As some of you know, and many of you don't, I am working on a documentary film project entitled African Soul, American Heart. This documentary will tell the story of my friend and NDSU student Joseph Akol Makeer, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Joseph was displaced from his home as a 10 year old boy, walked hundreds of miles across Sudan with 25,000-30,000 other boys, lived for 3 years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, then ten years in a UN refugee camp in Kenya, before arriving in Fargo almost 5 years ago. For the last 10 years, he has also been the primary caregiver for 4 younger siblings who arrived at the UN Refugee camp in 1998. Their parents are no longer alive.

He is going to return home to Sudan for the first time in 20 years, and I am part of a three-person crew that is going to travel with him and film this amazing homecoming. Our crew will be in Joseph's village approximately 8 days (Dec. 17-25), and while we are there, we also hope to be able to deliver some humanitarian aid.

This is where I really need your help.

Our team has raised $11,000 in about a month, and we are getting close to being able to cover many of our expenses. This trip will be a real success, however, if we can bring direct aid to Joseph's village, which is going through the process of re-building after a 20 year civil war. If you can help me raise another $5,000 before we leave on Dec. 10th, we will be able to purchase bulls, goats, and other basic needs when we arrive in Sudan.

Our fundraising theme has been 500 X $50. If 100 of you who read this message can contribute $50, we will add $5,000 to our goal. If anyone can contribute more, your generosity will make a tremendous impact. If you cannot contribute $50, but you can contribute $5, please know that $5 can make a difference in a village rebuilding after 20 years of civil war. If you can't contribute financially at this time, please send me an email and wish us all luck--the many kind words I have received already have all been very valuable to me.

Please click here to get to our paypal donation page.

There is a "Pay Pal" logo on that page; if you click it, you can either make a donation through your Pay Pal account, or you can use a credit card to make your donation. If you would rather send a check / cheque (for all my Canadian family and friends), the address is

African Soul, American Heart
c/o Deb Dawson, Executive Producer
300 NP Ave Ste. 308
Fargo ND 58102

Your Canadian donations go even further these days, and we can cash Canadian cheques easily in Fargo.

Please also forward this message to any of your friends or family members who might be interested in our supporting our project. You can follow our progress at our blog.

I look forward to hearing from many of you!



Mid-Life Crisis, Part Deux

I'm up to .85 miles at 6 minute/mile pace. It hurts.


Note To Doctors

If you are going to hate your patients, don't expect them to trust you.

If you think this:

"I marveled, sitting there silenced by her diatribe. Hers was such a fully orbed and vigorous self-concern that it possessed virtue in its own right. Her complete and utter selfishness was nearly a thing of beauty."

expect a lot more of this:

"At the other end of our spectrum are patients like Susan: They're often suspicious and distrustful"

Gee, I wonder if their suspicion and/or distrust has to do with your:
A. snap, and expert judgment of how she raises her kid just by the behavioral pinhole you glimpsed in the waiting room,
B. distaste of her knowing where you got your credentialing,
C. quick and assuming dismissal of any and all research done on her very real and felt condition,
D. wistful and fond recollection of being taught when to "punt" a patient away, like a football?

As one of those "other" doctors, let me just share some insight. The world is changing. People have more access to bad information, and indeed we ARE responsible for knowing what to ignore. That makes it that much MORE important that we share what we know, what we don't know, and what to ignore in a way that communicates this information convincingly to people who are usually desperate and unwilling to trust the trappings of expertise that used to carry the day. Our professional identity will likely be determined by what the religious fundamentalists call "our witness." If we can only help the easily cowed, we should probably take a secondary role to those who can advocate and profess their calling more eloquently.


Embodied History

When I was doing research for my dissertation, I compiled an impressive list of women who were central in the development of networks, microcomputing, digital processing, and programming. Their stories are shunted aside in the quest to locate the "father" of the Internet/computer/network/whatever.

“The names of Betty Snyder Holberton, Jean Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum and Frances Bilas Spence belong in our history books and computer courses,” says Kleiman. “Not only did they program the first modern computer, some devoted decades to making programming easier and more accessible for all who followed.”

Read more and remember.


Steampunk about to Jump the...er, Steam-Driven Mechanical Shark

Newsweek has a good article on steampunk. When the popular press finds out about a trend, it is usually on death watch. Expect the release of The Golden Compass to officially kill this formerly-underground aesthetic