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Category Archives: Just me sounding off


Friend of mine just forwarded me this CFP (that’s ‘call for papers,’ for the unwashed among you) for an impending scholarly clambake at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. In this golden age of academic off-jag, it’s pretty hard to stand out as a polysyllabic bullshitter, but this, uh, text and its author deserve mad props for totally delivering on the enticing promise of the panel’s subtitle. Take us beyond meaning, Jamie Bianco of the University of Pittsburgh!

Non-discursivity and Affect: Beyond Meaning in Media

Seminar Organizer: Jamie Bianco, U of Pittsburgh
Within cultural and comparative studies, we engage the world through discursive and critical frameworks. In response to emerging theorization of multimodality, non-discursivity, creative criticism, practical research, object-oriented philosophy, and speculative realism, this seminar seeks to engage work that draws out these emergent conceptualizations in relation to cultural and media production, reception, circulation/distribution, and response. Are non-discursive elements “readable” in a critical response? What is the role of “design”? How might we think about and produce responses to ecologies and ethologies of culture, media, mediated objects, and user/makers within creative critical or multimodal productive methods that privilege critical making over intervention? Are experiential critical designs effective? This seminar considers media to include print and analog forms as well as digital and computational forms and welcomes work in multimodal/multimediated genres and styles.

So much to admire here. I love the way that “practical research” stands out like a turd in a punchbowl next to “multimodality, non-discursivity” etc etc. I loves them scare quotes around “‘readable'” and “‘design,'” though would prefer to see same around “role,” and maybe “seminar” too, because that’s a concept that’s really been insufficiently problematized. I’m dying to know the distinction between “critical making” and “intervention.” Are we talking here about the difference between sitting around criticizing shit and actually doing something about shit? Just a fucking guess, based on the rash assumption that it has to mean anything at all.

In the words of my man Flann, “Can you imagine the sneering daredevils who despise each other for not ‘understanding’ grey incomprehensibilities like this?”

I’ve finally found a use for my fancy and protracted education: firewood.

I just posted this profound think piece at the Chicago Reader.

As a semi-lapsed academic, I’ve been really disappointed in the way accused spree killer Dr. Amy Bishop, PhD, got dropped down the mass media’s memory hole after the initial flurry of excitement over her alleged rampage last February. (Do you have to be a broken-down football player to stay in the homicidal spotlight? What a sad comment on American anti-intellectualism.) Read more.

I’m shooting for second Beard as a food blogger and PR trouble shooter.

Thanks to the Hewlett-Packard Compaq 6510b, I’ve had so much face time with the UPS delivery guy in the past six months that we are now on first-name basis. His name is Rick and he seems very happy in his work. “See you tomorrow,” he said, after dropping off my new AC adapter, the third in the history of my epically dysfunctional laptop.


Just waiting on the reliable ol’ Hewlett-Packard 6510b to mosey back to us from another spell at the digital sanitarium in Houston, Texas, folks. This blog is still a going concern. Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

Please hold the line, and you will be connected to the first available fucked-up old news item. Your page-view is important to us.

The Compaq 6510b is has gone back home again to the Hewlett-Packard repair facility, so they’ll be no posts for the nonce. Meanwhile, here’s an account of how I attained my profound knowledge of things gastronomic. I’m appending some relevant images that the Chicago Reader couldn’t find room for on the Internet. Read More »

The amazing Hewlett-Packard Compaq 6510b is back up and running after its sixth or seventh Fedex trip back the manufacturer for service. I wish I’d kept better track of its medical history because it’s all starting to blur at this point. I do know this: I’m on my third hard drive, my third adapter, my second CPU, my second battery, and my second disk drive. It’s really only the same computer I originally bought 18 months ago in the sense that it’s got the same serial number and will almost certainly start fucking up again in a couple of weeks. I’ve still got another year left on the warranty, so I guess I’ll just keep sending it back for rehab on Hewlett-Packard’s dime as needed until the clock runs out. Whereafter I will never, ever buy anything from Hewlett-Packard again. I’m not even gonna buy HP Sauce, even though it’s made by Heinz and I like it on fried eggs.

Damned if I can fathom the business model behind all of this.

In the picture above, you see the computer, its battery, plus a large plastic dingus that’s probably a battery for a Hewlett-Packard device other than the Compaq 6510b. You will note that said dingus is about four inches longer and five inches wider than the battery that fits the computer. Whatever it is, it was sent to me as a replacement battery, and since batteries aren’t covered by the warranty, I had to pay Hewlett-Packard a pretty penny for it. The day it arrived, I called Hewlett-Packard and asked for a prepaid label to ship it back, and I was assured that one would be sent out forthwith. That was like six weeks ago. I called back about it every week after that for 4 weeks: still no label, no info on where to send whatever it is. Of course every time I called it was at least a 30 minute investment of time, and I had to tell the whole story from the beginning to three different people, and nobody would believe me that the thing wouldn’t fit my computer. No one could even tell me what it is: I kept reading them the various numbers on the various stickers on it, none of which illuminated the issue for anyone. At one point I emailed a cellphone pic of the thing to the guy I was talking to. He was unable to identify it, but promised that yes, yes, a shipping label would reach me within five business days. That was weeks ago. Prior to that, I’d already called American Express and told them to suspend the charge to my card, which they obligingly did. I sort of reckoned that would get Hewlett-Packard’s attention, but nope. Not a peep out of them about it. They’re not even functioning racketeers at that firm. If you’ve got Hewlett-Packard stock in your portfolio, sell it ASAP, because nobody is minding the store over there.

But-but-but! I’ve also got some Wonderful News to share with you: This actually fucking works. The same week that my Hewlett-Packard Compaq 6510b threw up its most recent blue screen of death, my backup drive, a Toshiba 250 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive HDDR250E03X, also crashed. So I was pretty sure that I’d lost all of my data, including 99% of all photos and videos I’d ever taken of my kid. And this was severely darking me out, because after all I BACKED THAT SHIT UP THE WAY I WAS SUPPOSED TO.
Anyway, long story short: I put the Toshiba in the freezer overnight per these instructions and recovered my data. And I’ve since learned that this freezer trick is used all the time by your expert data recovery specialists, who in other words are a bunch of shameless pirates, which I already knew, but holy shit am I glad I didn’t give them a chance to shake me down for all of those baby pix, which I probably would have gone four figures for.

Assuming my my flight gets me there on time, I’m going to be giving a brief lecture on Wild Women as part of this here cultural event at the Gershwin Theater in New York on April 29th, 8 PM. The rest of the program sounds entirely legitimate though, and admission is a mere fin. Come one, come all.

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