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Digital Sextant : Philosophy
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{ Category Archives } Philosophy

On Trigger Warnings and Empathy

Neil Gaiman’s recent short story collection is called Trigger Warnings.  Scott Kenemore (author of Zombie, Indiana among many others) wrote about how horror is supposed to cause feelings of discomfort: in recent years a threat has emerged—a sinister shadow falling over our community, you might say—leaving us even darker than usual.  And I believe that […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: End of the semester grading

Note: I’ll be taking a break from the Dispatches from the Age of Electracy series until after the new year. An interesting conversation opened up on Facebook last week about grading.  The OP asked “Hypothetically, what should I say to a student who’s unhappy about getting 91/100?” (click ‘read more’ below to see the full […]

The Grand Hotel – a spooky place to stay

The Grand Hotel by Scott Kenemore *Full disclosure: Scott Kenemore and I have been on convention panels together and he has visited my class several times to speak about his work on zombies.* The Grand Hotel is a ghost story anthology with a wraparound tale that contextualizes the eleven stories in the context of a […]

3 anecdotes that shape my thoughts on #GamerGate – Boy Scouts, a Cat in the Trash, and a Clockwork Orange

If you don’t know what #GamerGate is, you should be glad.  It’s awful.  Here’s a summary if you don’t know. Here’s my TL;DR for you: 1. Over the last couple years, a few feminists have been pointing out that many video games perpetuate sexist stereotypes about women, and make little room for women in their […]

Archbishop John Nienstedt should be ashamed of himself.

Archbishop John Nienstedt asked Jaime Moore, the longtime music director for St. Victoria parish in Victoria, MN, to resign after Moore married his longtime same-sex partner.  Nienstedt should be ashamed of himself. We’ve long understood that the Bible is a hot mess of contradictions.  Aside from confusions introduced by its translation into other languages, there […]

A few thoughts on The Quantum Rose

The Quantum Rose, by Catherine Asaro, follows the blossoming love of Kamoj and Vryl, a woman and man from two vastly different cultures on vastly different planets.  They’re pulled apart by cultural forces, by diplomatic obligations, by jealousy.  They’re attracted to one another on a deep level, they resonate.  Also, Asaro reveals at the end […]

Privilege and humor – Whose experience is being mocked?

There’s been quite a bit of commentary lately about privilege.  It’s a concept that finally seems to have some mainstream bite, and deserves serious consideration. In case this is new to you, the basic idea of privilege in this context is the idea that different people have different experiences in society because of factors outside […]

Should someone’s politics influence your enjoyment of their art? (The Ender’s Game conundrum)

I acknowledge up front that nothing I say here will be particularly revelatory if you have been following or thinking about this story for very long. Books and movies you encounter during your formative years often get a pass on critical thinking, at least they do for me.  I’m fond of a number of movies […]

Let’s boo boo! A few thoughts on The World’s End

The World’s End Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have written their third movie together, the end of what they’ve dubbed the Cornetto trilogy (Cornetto being the British equivalent of the American Drumstick ice cream treat).  It tells the story of Gary King, a burnout whose best moments came and went in high school, trying to […]

Dr. Morris Fishbine, OR Another reason to love Columbia College Chicago

Check out this clip from A Thousand Clowns: [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL69r44Nds8] I’ve had several students who go by something different than what the roster says.  Sometimes this is an expected change, like an Anthony who goes by Tony, or someone who uses their middle name.  Other times, it’s more complicated.  I’ve had three students who used names […]

Sad Robot Stories: A Novella

Sad Robot Stories: a novella by Mason Johnson The title of this novella reads ambiguously.  Is this a collection of stories about a sad robot, or are these sad stories about a robot or robots? As my father used to say–Yes. Johnson’s book follows the adventures of Robot, an outsider among his own kind, as […]

We’re surrounded!: Universities, Electracy, and the coming tsunami, part 4

This is the fourth in a four-part blog series taking a snapshot of the current economic, political, and grammatological situation facing the modern American university system.  In part one, I provided a preface for this discussion.  Parts two, three, and four focus specifically on pressures from different quarters challenging us to re-imagine what it is […]

It will never get harder to copy things: Universities, Electracy, and the coming tsunami, part 3

This is the third in a four-part blog series taking a snapshot of the current economic, political, and grammatological situation facing the modern American university system.  In part one, I provided a preface for this discussion.  Parts two, three, and four focus specifically on pressures from different quarters challenging us to re-imagine what it is […]

The Ghosts of Travel Agents: Universities, Electracy, and the coming tsunami, part 1

This is the first in a four-part blog series taking a snapshot of the current economic, political, and grammatological situation facing the modern American university system.  In parts two, three, and four, I will focus specifically on pressures from different quarters challenging us to re-imagine what it is we do.  This part serves as a […]

Them: Adventures with Extremists

Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson It’s a little disconcerting how close Ronson gets to very scary people in this book.  But his point, I think, is that even the very scary people are just people.  Them details Ronson’s journey into the late 1990s and early 2000s subculture of conspiracy theorists, people who believe […]