Snow Day Links

So, my previous post was just supposed to be a links post, but my excitement about the inauguration left me wanting to write more.  Now here are some links:

  • Via George on Twitter: The New York Times has an incredible graphic timeline looking at the language of presidential inaugural addresses.  The graphic lists each word both by frequency of use and relative frequency as compared to other presidential addresses.  Interesting frequently used words from Obama’s speech: work, generation, work, crisis, hard, and endure (implicitly echoing Faulkner, as Forest Whitaker did at the Inaugural concert).  Clicking on a word allows you to see each use in context.
  • Elizabeth Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day,” as transcribed on the BlueSkyWriting blog.  I’ll admit that I didn’t find the poem to be that impressive on Alexander’s initial reading, but a second gance suggests some nice moments.  Still, it was nice to see an inauguration in which so many poetic voices–and I include Reverend Joseph Lowery’s humorous, heartfelt benediction here–were heard.
  • Due to a Twitter post about Jill Biden’s doctorate, I did some digging and found her Rate My Professors page.  Obviously this is a bit voyeuristic, but I was fascinated and pleased to see that so many of her students apparently appreciate the work that she’s doing in the classroom (if these ratings can be fully believed).  But for a more official account of her impressive educational credentials, the White House biography page has a lot of information.
  • Finally, in non-inauguration news, the Cinema Eye Honors nominees were announced the other day.  I’m hoping to write a longer post later, but I’m glad to see Man on Wire and Order of Myths, two of my favorite films from the 2008 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival included in the best nonfiction film category.  The latter, especially, deserves a much wider audience.  I haven’t had a chance to see Waltz with Bashir–it came to Atlanta after I left for the holidays–but it looks like a major favorite with seven nominations.

Update: Via Jay Rosen’s Twitter feed (here’s his blog), a link to a nice overview of the renovations to the White House website by Saul Hansell.  As Hansell, points out, many of these changes are cosmetic: we’ve long been able to view the text of bills on the House and Senate sites, and there have always been means for communicating with the president (although the five-day discussion period for non-crucial bills is impressive).  Still, as this CNN article points out, these cosmetic changes matter in creating a more inclusive, participatory government (scroll down for a quote from fellow academic blogger, Dave Parry).

Update 2: Text and video of Derek Wolcott’s “40 Acres,” a poem for Barack Obama.  Wolcott won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.


  1. Jonathan Gray Said,

    January 20, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    yeah, Alexander really needs lessons in how to read her poems, eh? It’s actually pretty decent, but it was pretty poor in the reading

  2. Chuck Said,

    January 20, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

    To be fair, something like a billion, or maybe even a gazillion, people were watching her. I’d imagine she might have been nervous. Still, the reading didn’t go very well.

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