One of the things I miss most about living in the West (Arizona and New Mexico) are the sunsets. Fortunately, we occasionally get some pretty spectacular ones (usually in July and August when the long daylight hours combine with rain clouds). Here are some shots from just a few evenings ago.


You Gotta Break it Down

Here's a great story about how 4300 folks went from normal to carbon neutral in a decade. It CAN be done if we try.


The Wild Turkeys are Gone

About two weeks ago, sport and I noticed a pair of young wild turkeys hanging out near our apartment complex.

They weren't particularly aggressive, but they were not very alarmed when we walked or drove by (sometimes close enough to touch). One evening we heard what sounded like mournful screeching from one of them. We imagined the other had died because we had not seen them together in two days. Of course, the next day, both were in the herb/flower garden strutting around happily.

We haven't seen these two welcome visitors in a week. Hope they made it to the river safely, or at least to a bigger garden.


"The Scarlet P"

Just got the new College Composition and Communication June 2008 issue, so naturally I picked one article to tear through and deconstruct. Sean Zwagerman's article "The Scarlet P: Plagiarism, Panopticism, and the Rhetoric of Academic Integrity" seemed the most likely suspect, especially considering I wrote my dissertation on the history of surveillance in an array of Internet technologies. I fully expected to hate, or at least feel vastly superior to, any argument I found in his article. Foucault's study on Bentham's never-built Panopticon usually anchors poorly-written English department scholarship. In an almost quotidian way, Dr. Zwagerman's article exceeded my expectations. He does a very nice job situating the paradox of the switch to what Lanham calls an economy of attention in the plagiarism wars. What used to be a valuable commodity (or is at least claimed in our nostalgic and rhetorical constructions of the past), "voice" and "originality" has given way to something much, much different. Zwagerman situates the reader between the ethical horns of the dilemma perfectly. He uses Michel Foucault and Friere (which almost lost me, to be frank) to discuss how power is given over to proprietary places like turnitin.com, etc. The paradox lies in how the drive for integrity gets lost the second one tries to ensure trust through algorithmic checkpoints.

The only disappointment is really an opening for me to take Zwagerman's argument farther. He never says what replaces originality (or its evil twin "intellectual property"). Using his ethical framework, I think it would be interesting to imagine a set of values and competencies beyond trust and solidarity. After all, the music industry is beginning to learn that music data isn't as valuable as embodied experiences. Forget the album. Sell the concert, the backstage party. Heck, make it into a 3-D movie and convince people they need to be there to see it first. For many dyed-in-the-wool compositionists, it may be hard to imagine what students and parents might sign up for if the essay dies, but I think there are plenty of three-dimensional, 360 degree, surround-sound writing activities that can help teachers, students, and writers destroy the concept of plagiarism. Will students continue to betray our trust? Of course. So, too, will teachers betray student trust. Does that call for a system that memorializes these rather small slights with things like academic death penalties and even firings? I hope not.


You Will Go Free

You Will Go Free (Tonio K)

you've been a prisoner
been a prisoner all your life
held captive in an alien world
where they hold your need for love to your throat like a knife
and they make you jump
and they make you do tricks
they take what started off as such an innocent heart
and they break it and break it and break it
until it almost can't be found

well i don't know when
and it don't know how
i don't know how long it's gonna take
i don't know how hard it will be
but i know
you will go free

you can call it the devil
call it the big lie
call it a fallen world
what ever it is it ruins almost everything we try
it's the sins of the fathers
it's the choices we make
it's people screaming without making a sound
from prison cells in paradise
where we're chained to our mistakes

well i don't know when
and it don't know how
i don't know how much it's gonna cost you
probably everything
but i know
you will go free

you can't see your jailer
you can't see the bars
you can't turn your head round fast enough
but it's everywhere you are
it's all around you
and everywhere you walk this prison yard surrounds you

but in the midst of all this darkness
in the middle of this night
i see truth cut through this curtain like a laser
like a pure and holy light
and i know i can't touch you now
and i don't want to speak too soon
but when we get sprung
from out of our cages baby
god knows what we might do

well i don't know when
and it don't know how
i don't know if you'll be leaving alone
or if you'll be leaving with me
but i know
you will go free