Archive for November, 2004

Teaching Journeys with George

I’m still recovering from post-election malaise and dealing with mounds of work, so I’ve decided to show a film this week in order to shift gears a bit. After quite a bit of wavering (i.e., staring at a shelf full of DVD cases at my local video store), I decided to show Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys with George, which focuses on then-Governor Bush’s 2000 election campaign (I reviewed the film here a few months ago).

I haven’t had the chance to talk at length with my students about the film, but I am impressed by the way that it holds up on a second (and third and fourth, I hope) screening. One of the interesting aspects of the film is its “home movie” quality (Pelosi herself describes her film in these terms), a phrasing I’m not sure I gave enough attention to in my earlier review. The film also captures the extent to which the press bubble becomes a kind of alternate family and we see the degree to which this group of reporters becomes separated from their “real” families (two of the reporeters talk at some length about their separation from their families). At any rate, I’m anticipating that the doc will provide us with a lot to talk about on Thursday.

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Out on Film

Tarnation is screening at the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Film Festival this weekend. I’m going to be out of town at a conference, but I’m tempted to take an earlier flight just to catch this film.

The program for the rest of the festival looks pretty cool, though. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to break away and catch a film or two.

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Weekend in Raleigh

Still recovering from the conference I attended this weekend (yes, Saturday night was a late, late night). Covergences was unlike most conferences in that it was limited to a smaller group of, I believe, nineteen people. And instead of having several sessions running concurrently, we only had one session at a time. The result was that the papers could provoke conversations that would re-emerge in later panels or over dinner and drinks that night. Thanks again to David and Christa for all of their hard work in putting this thing together.

I’ll try to jump back into some of the interesting blog conversations that have been developing since I’ve been gone, but I’m still shaking the cobwebs a bit, and now I also have to start thinking ahead to next weekend’s stop on my fall tour.

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Another Georgia Tech Blogger

I just noticed that another one of my colleagues at Georgia Tech, Ian Bogost, has a blog, Water Cooler Games. Ian was recently profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education for his work on political games.

He also ran Georgia’s electronic voting system through his game design filter and made some useful observations about just how clunky Georgia’s process actually is. Glad I came across this entry because it certainly contributes to the discussion I wanted to have about making the voting system more transparent.

Heading to the airport in a couple of hours, so I’ll likely be out of touch for most of the rest of the weekend.

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Take the Pledge

I’m not really thinking about leaving the country or anything, but it’s nice to know the option is available. I’m really not thinking about leaving; I just thought this was kind of funny.

I did find Lisa’s comments here and here to be pretty inspiring (thanks, Cynthia!).

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Carolina in My Mind

I still don’t have anything terribly profound to say about the election. I really was optomistic that Kerry would win, and I believe that Bush’s policies will do incredible, perhaps irreversible, harm over the next four years. He and the Republicans are already seeking to increase the debt ceiling, allowing the “fiscally conservative” party to put us, our children, and their children even deeper into debt. Bush, of course, now has a “mandate” to govern, with the popular vote supporting him by a significant margin, not to mention having both houses of Congress heavilty stacked in the Republican Party’s favor.

The good news is that I’ll be attending Convergences in Raleigh, North Carolina, this weekend, where I’ll be able to meet up with fellow bloggers Jenny, Collin, and Byron. Looking forward to meeting Jenny and Collin for the first time and seeing Byron again for the first time in several years. Because I’ll be on the road until Sunday, expect little to no blogging over the weekend.

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Deflated

Just heard on the radio that Kerry is calling Bush to concede the election, so it’s offically over. The candidate who lied about WMD in Iraq was perceived as the more honest and moral candidate. The party that wanted to write discrimination into several state consititions won. I don’t have anything to say right now. Maybe later today. For now, I’m just going to crank some punk rock, take some deep breaths, work on my conference paper, and prepare to win the next round.

I will say that I’ve been comforted by all of the many eloquent responses to the election results:

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I (Finally) Voted

It has been a long day already, but here’s my voting narrative. I decided to wait until after my classes today to vote, which meant I’d be driving to the polling center around 5 PM. The streets were buzzing with election activity today. Lots of people holding signs for Kerry-Edwards, for Senate candidate Denise Majette, and against the anti-gay Amendment. One of the precincts I drove past this morning had Election Protection workers out front, their black t-shirts making them highly visible. Many of my students wore their “I Voted” stickers to class, and others told me they had voted early (according to one student early voting took something like six hours at one polling center in Dekalb County). So, lots of excitement about the election on campus today.

So I got home from campus, excited to finally vote. I grabbed a book (Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude) just in case there was a long line, and got ready to head out to my precinct, a Presbyterian church (I think) at the intersection of Scott Blvd. and North Decatur. Then my car wouldn’t start. No charge at all. The engine wouldn’t turn over. Nothing. Fortunately my polling center is only about a mile from my apartment, so I simply started walking. By the time I got to the polls at 5:30 or so, there weren’t really any lines at all, just an election worker out front taking a break. I told her my story, and she called me a “great American,” adding, “Isn’t that what Sean Hannity always says?” I mumbled something in response and walked inside and filled out the form to get my ballot.

Here’s where my laziness usually causes a brief glitch. I don’t have a Georgia driver’s license. My Illinois license doesn’t expire for another month, so I’ve been hanging onto it as long as possible. This time around, the poll worker asked for an alternate form of ID. Oddly enough, last time in the Democratic run-off election, he didn’t ask. I’m not sure if there are different rules for different elections, but once I gave him my Georgia Tech ID, everything was cool. Georgia has touchscreen ballots, and like Maryland, the technology is somewhat counterintuitive, with your “mark” on the ballot represented with a big red “X.” On the whole, I had no problems or glitches at all. Voting went quickly, and the whole experience, round-trip, probably took about an hour (with a twenty-minute-plus walk each way). Now, it’s time to watch and wait. Thanks again for all of the voting narratives. I’m sure I’ll have more to say later, but now I’m off to an election party or two.

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First-Person Voting Narratives

For those readers who haven’t already voted, here’s a quick reminder/request. First, take some time out tomorrow and vote. Second, I’d really appreciate it if you would write a first-person voting narrative in your blog and link to my “Public Conversations About Voting” entry. If you don’t have a blog or don’t want to write such an entry in your blog, feel free to leave the narrative in the comment section of that entry.

I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s voting narratives and I’m looking forward to reading many others.

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Pineapple Salsa

Too stressed to work, so I’ve been engaged in frantic blog surfing all day, and I just came across the New Kid’s recipe for pineapple salsa, one of my favorite treats, and now I know how to make it.

I posted a salsa recipe a long time ago, but the New Kid’s recipe sounds even better.

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Fahrenheit 9/11 in the Classroom

Michelle Malkin worries that several public high schools have allowed teachers to show Michael Moore’s documentary to their students. She cites a Seattle Times article reporting that a Mill Creek, WA, teacher planned to show the film:

A high-school teacher’s classroom showing of the controversial film “Fahrenheit 9/11” has some local Republicans fired up.

Judy Baker, a teacher at Henry M. Jackson High School, showed the anti-Bush documentary last week to students in her government class as part of a lesson in propaganda and politics. She adhered to district policy that requires permission from both the principal and a parent for students to see the R-rated film.

“We’re supposed to be training kids to be informed voters. It seems appropriate to help kids critically dissect information and analyze it,” Principal Terry Cheshire said.

Only one parent opted for their child not to view the movie Thursday, but the local GOP headquarters received a call from a concerned parent and an e-mail about the movie, said Darcy Cheesman, coordinator for the Snohomish County Republican Party’s get-out-the-vote campaign.

The staff called Cheshire to complain because of the film’s portrayal of President Bush.

“I have a 13-year-old out in Monroe and a second-grader, and I would be up in arms if a teacher decided to show this movie, even if it’s [labeled as] propaganda,” Cheesman said.

While I do not have any immediate plans to teach Moore’s film, I’d like to defend this teacher’s choice. In this particular case, I see little reason for controversy. The teacher obtained permission from the students’ parents before they were permitted to see the film, and students who objected were free not to watch.

The film was taught in the context of a course on politics and propaganda, and it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that students and the teacher may very well have been critical of some of Moore’s arguments and techniques in the film (I found his use of the “My Pet Goat” footage to be pretty ineffective myself). In fact, it’s not necessarily clear from the article that the teacher endorses all (or any) of Moore’s positions. Finally, I’m uncomfortable with the continued attempt to curtail any political discussion in the classroom. If Moore’s film does anything, it provokes political conversation, and with an upcoming election, that seems like a worthy goal. It’s not the case that students will automatically accept the arguments in his film without questioning them. In fact, in my experience, many of my students are willing to engage critically with the texts they encounter, especially when it’s clear that in this election there is so much at stake, and I think it’s important to encourage that tendency rather than stifle it.

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More Information about Voting in Georgia

Inspired by Alex’s link to Swampthing’s “Guide to November 2nd“, I tracked down the League of Women Voters of Georgia (LWVG) homepage, which is full of useful information about voting in Georgia. LWVG also links to the Georgia Secretary of State’s page on electronic voting, including a “demo” of how the process works.

Also, I just wanted to repeat my call for blog entries about your experiences on election day. For those of you who have already voted, tell us about what you did on election day. For those of you (like me) who waited until election day, tell us what you saw. Long lines? Energetic voters? Any problems with voting machines?

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