Wednesday, May 31, 2006

josh blue

acting on a tip from my buddy mike peters, i tuned into last night's last comic standing. i'm not a big tv watcher and even less of a reality-tv watcher but mike told me that josh blue would be on.

josh blue is hysterical. he's also extremely intelligent. he's an award-winning comedian. he's also an artist. he also has cerebral palsy. and he's also a paralympian soccer player.

he's also a really nice guy. sarah and i met him briefly at mike and emily's (beautiful, transcendent, quaker) wedding. josh is the kind of person who's tapped directly into life itself. i only met him one night but i could tell immediately that he's a force.

american tv has the ability - if not the tendency - to screw up everything that i find sacred, so i'm not holding my breath to see how a show like last comic standing deals with disability. but there's something about josh blue the person that demands recognition and respect. plus, as i said before, the guy is hysterical. we'll see. in the meantime, josh blue - rock on!


new reviews in cyberculture studies (june 2006)

[via RCCS] a new set of book reviews for june 2006:

Matthew Fuller, Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture (MIT Press, 2005)
    Reviewed by Virgil Moberg, an assistant professor of Journalism and Mass Communications in the Humanities Division at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida

Larry Gross, John Stuart Katz, & Jay Ruby, eds. Image Ethics in the Digital Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2003)
    Reviewed by Lane DeNicola, a doctoral candidate in Science & Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a lecturer in Digital Technology & Culture at Washington State University Vancouver

Mark D. Johns, Shing-Ling Sarina Chen, & G. Jon Hall, eds. Online Social Research: Methods, Issues, and Ethics (Peter Lang Publishers, 2004)
    Reviewed by Jakob Linaa Jensen, an assistant professor at the Department of Media Studies, University of Aarhus, Denmark.

    Author response by Mark D. Johns, ELCA Pastor, associate professor, and head of the Department of Communication Studies, Luther College

Christophe Lecuyer, Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High-Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press, 2006)
    Reviewed by Michelle Rodino-Colocino, an assistant professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati

Madanmohan Rao, ed. News Media and New Media: The Asia-Pacific Internet Handbook, Episode V (Eastern Universities Press, 2003)
    Reviewed by Yu Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the State University of New York at Geneseo

    Author response by Madanmohan Rao

coming soon ... reviews of Chris Berry, Fran Martin, & Audrey Yue's Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia, Viviane Serfaty's The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs, Steven Shaviro's Connected, or What It Means to Live in the Network Society, and Bruce Sterling's Shaping Things.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Friday, May 26, 2006

writing for my local paper: "Learning from Topsy Smalley"

today, The Daily ran my editorial titled "Learning from Topsy Smalley." the online version is a bit different from the one i submitted, so i'm reproducing the original version below. as always, i thank the good people at The Daily for giving me this opportunity.
    Learning from Topsy Smalley

    Topsy Smalley is an instructional librarian at Cabrillo College Library, in Aptos, California. In April 2003, as Baghdad fell, she saw the widespread looting of Iraqi museums, hospitals, universities, and libraries.

    As a librarian, Topsy was particularly pained to learn of the destruction and desecration of libraries. She decided to make contact with librarians in Iraq and offer, at the very least, her professional condolences.

    Topsy Smalley reminds us that when we tap into our own passions (hers are books, learning, and libraries) we can make a difference.

    To make contact, Topsy went through listings of Iraqi universities in the International Handbook of Universities and culled emails. She sent them. No one replied.

    She contacted the Middle East Librarians Association and received snail mail addresses for three librarians in Baghdad. Her plans to send them letters were thwarted when she learned that there was no U.S. mail service to Iraq.

    She wrote to Laura Bush, who was once a school librarian, and asked for her help. No response.

    Topsy reminds me that patience is a virtue. From Topsy Smalley I learn that to do something right, you have to be persistent.

    Finally, six months later, through a web site for the Coalition Provision Authority in Iraq, she got into contact with a Senior Advisor to the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research. He supplied her with eight email addresses of presidents of Iraqi universities. Six bounced

    But two got through.

    By trying and testing, observing and assessing, Topsy learned a number of important things: 1) that university libraries in Iraq were in terrible shape; 2) that Iraqi university libraries have had no new college-level textbooks since 1991; 3) that English is the language of instruction in Iraqi higher education; and 4) that Iraqi university libraries desperately needed new textbooks, especially in the sciences and mathematics.

    She also learned she could use the Ministry's Army Post Office (APO) address to send books to Baghdad.

    And so began the booklift.

    With help from Cabrillo College faculty and librarians, Topsy began to ship box after box of books to Baghdad. Since November 2003, Topsy has shipped 144 boxes of books to Iraq.

    Topsy reminds me that actions speak louder than words. From Topsy Smalley I learn that before we act, we must understand what is needed, and to understand what is needed, we must learn to listen.

    There is so much more to Topsy's story. Like when she learned that she could no longer use the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research's APO, and she found help from a female first lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Like when she facilitated a collaboration between chemistry faculty and students at Basrah University and Cabrillo College. And when she suddenly no longer heard from an Iraqi with whom she'd been collaborating.

    As the war waged (and wages) on, Topsy's booklift continued. When she ran against walls, she learned to go around them, to go over them, and sometimes, with the help of others, to go through them.

    I can only imagine the feelings of sorrow and hope Topsy felt when she received messages of gratitude from Iraqis. From the Director of the Art College Library of Baghdad's Al-Mustansiriya University: "I thank you very much for your feeling of sadness for the damage. I wish to see your library at your college, and I wish that you could come to Iraq and see our library. I wish that we had all the books for our needs in education that you have in Cabrillo College Library. Thank you again."

    From a theoretical chemist at the University of Basrah: "Thank you for the gift of wonderful new textbooks from faculty and librarians at Cabrillo College. Because of the shortage of books, and the fact that we have not had links to the academic world in many decades, these books are of great importance and experience for our University of Basrah. We all thank you so very much for these books!"

    From Topsy Smalley – her ideas, her actions, her passion, and her hope – we should all learn that dialogue is better than destruction and that books are better than bombs.


    David Silver teaches communication at the University of Washington. Starting this fall, he'll teach media studies at the University of San Francisco. He blogs at: For more on Topsy's booklift, see and click "Iraq Textbooks Project."
with luck, i'll have the opportunity to write one more editorial before i leave UW.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

can you pass the acid test?

as part of COM 495, one student, cameron, tracked down zane kesey, the son of ken kesey - author of one flew over the cuckoo's nest and ringleader of the merry pranksters (whose escapades are best recounted in tom wolfe's sixties counterculture classic, the electric kool-aid acid test). whether on their dayglo-painted bus (driven by - who else? - neal cassady from jack keroac's fifties counterculture classic on the road), partying with the hell's angels, or hosting acid tests (house band = a young group of smiling longhairs who would become the grateful dead), kesey and the pranksters recorded everything. they were like the first reality tv show: they recorded their trips, their trips on the bus, their trips with the cops.

i knew these recordings existed but i had no idea where to find them. so, through the web, cameron finds zane who has been editing the tapes and sells them as DVDs at twenty bucks a pop.

yesterday, cameron and i watched one of the DVDs, called Can You Pass the Acid Test?. although it could use a bit more editing, the footage is formidable. a young (21? 22?) jerry garcia leading his bandmates (including pigpen!) through torrential waves of sound and improvisation. a dancing neal cassady! light shows that even now would be pretty mind-blowing. really interesting stuff. a perfect companion piece for anyone teaching, learning about, or interested in 1960s counterculture.

Monday, May 22, 2006


those who know me well know i have very few belongings. lately, i've gone from very few possessions to very, very few possessions. i like it that way and have spent the last few months in serious purge mode.

this morning i set out a bunch of stuff directly outside my office. i got some boxes, put some colorful tapestries over them, and placed a number of magazines (mostly the nation) on one box and a ton of cassette tapes on the other two.

above the boxes of stuff, i placed a sign that said, "free stuff."

there was some really good stuff up in there: led zep's houses of the holy and II, some pavement, bjork, and neil young, some tribe called quest, de la soul, and del, vivaldi's four seasons (!), and some great mixed tapes from some old co-op parties in the late 1980s.

nearly everything got taken within a few hours. i was somewhat surprised that the nirvana tape went unclaimed. i wasn't surprised that the two joan sutherland tapes didn't find a new home.

update: i forgot to mention that i was also surprised that janes addiction's nothing's shocking wasn't taken. that tape rocks!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

rockaway roadtrip

back from rockaway beach, on the oregon coast, with sarah, trevor, ally, their dog bosso, and trevor's parents pam and terry. all seven of us stayed at ally's family's beachhouse and we enjoyed great talks, walks, and eats. i have not seen pam and terry for at least seven, eight years - it was quite a treat to catch up.

before we left for rockaway beach, sarah got a sweeeeeeeeet haircut!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yazir Henri, the Direct Action Centre for Peace and Memory, and the Clowes Center for Conflict and Dialogue Studies

if i were an undergrad at UW, i'd probably be a CHID (comparative history of ideas) major. the faculty are inspired, the courses are fascinating, and the students - the students are extremely creative and original.

one of the best elements of CHID is its many opportunities (for students, but also for faculty and staff) for international collaboration. as part of the clowes center for conflict and dialogue studies, CHID is bringing to campus Yazir Henri.

When: Wednesday, May 31, 7 pm
Where: Kane Hall 210, UW campus
More info: Contact Theron Paul Stevenson, CHID Director of International Programs,
from the press release,
Yazir Henri is the co-founder and director of the Direct Action Centre for Peace and Memory in Cape Town, South Africa. Since 1997, the centre has worked with former combatants, torture survivors and political prisoners. Henri joined Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the African National Conference at age 16, when the apartheid government still held power over South Africa. He received military training in Angola and the Soviet Union, and returned to South Africa as an MK officer, only to be imprisoned for terrorism and treason. Henri emerged from the hands of the police, and from an ambivalent testimony before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to re-define himself as a poet, writer and peace activist.

Henri will share his personal experience of the liberation war, detention, survival and recovery and explain how these have shaped his current beliefs. He will also describe his Centre’s response to the manifold challenges facing young combatants previously involved in the South African war for freedom, and the larger context of challenges that hamper the building of long term peace and human security in post conflict South Africa.
hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


two brief notes regarding last night's america's top model finale:
    as my friend deb said in an email, "smart, gutsy, real and wonderful Danielle won. proving that character does sometimes prevail (in TV hyperreality, anyway)." true.

    my biggest fear was that once jade got kicked off, things would get boring. my fear came true. for me, once jade left - singing, snapping, strutting, then crying (the first time we saw the real jade) - the rest of the show was boring.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


ballard public library

via waterboro (maine) public library's blog, i learned that my local library, ballard public library, was chosen as one of the american institute for architecture's top ten green buildings of 2006. rock on ballard public library! one of the best things about living in ballard is its library, an inspirational space and the true heart of the community.

Monday, May 15, 2006

holla back nyc

this afternoon i heard heavy knocks all at once on my office door. i opened the door: four female college students, a tripod, and a video camera. the four students spoke at the same time, saying different things:

"we're doing a documentary, for a class, can we tape you?"

"it will only take a minute. it's for a com class. com 459!"

"it's about sexual harassment. about standing up to harassment. it'll take like 3 minutes."

"new york city. blogging. hollaback. have you ever been harassed?"
long story short: one of the students heard about holla back new york city, a web site that encourages new yorkers to take pictures of public sexual harassers. the four students were interviewing male and female members of the UW community. they would compile the interviews for a class project for com 459 ("writing for mass media"). smart project.

holla back nyc is pretty impressive. it's disturbing to witness the captured images of harassment in public places (subway, sidewalk, daytime, nighttime). at the same time, the process (take digital photos of harassment which are then posted to the blog) makes the invisible acts of daily harassment a bit more visible. their tagline rocks:

"Holla Back NYC empowers New Yorkers to Holla Back at street harassers. Whether you're commuting, lunching, partying, dancing, walking, chilling, drinking, or sunning, you have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy, without being the object of some turd's fantasy. So stop walkin' on and Holla Back: Send us pics of street harassers!"
the students were interviewing people and asking if they thought something like holla back nyc could be and should be in seattle. apparently, all the females and most of the males interviewed said something similar should happen here in seattle. i'm sure it's needed so i hope it happens.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

like a bubble we burst

one reason for the slow and deadly response to katrina was that much of the national guard was in iraq. many are still there. as chuck nagel (republican senator from nebraska; member of senate foreign relations committee) notes today in an AP article, "We've got National Guard members on their second, third and fourth tours in Iraq. We have stretched our military as thin as we have ever seen it in modern times." now, bush wants to put them (who? which members are available?) on the border between the us and mexico. how far can we stretch before - pop! - like a bubble we burst?

on the other side, it's interesting to watch the We Are America Alliance come into being. the We Are America Alliance is a newly-forming (early may, 2006, i believe) nationwide alliance of immigrant, grassroots, labor, local, statewide, and national organizations. their goals include:
  1. Produce a million new voters and citizens between now and Election Day 2006
  2. Press our lawmakers to stop the punitive and harsh HR 4437
  3. Enact real and comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for America's undocumented immigrants, reunites families, respects civil rights, and protects all workers.
they have a six-month calendar of events. and, according to a front page story in tomorrow's washington post, they have grown to over 40 collaborators. [press release]

Friday, May 12, 2006

Crossing the Line: A Forum on Immigration

one of the most important jobs of academics is to bring a little context to important and complex topics - and to bring this context to our students, our colleagues, and our communities. with that in mind, UW's department of ethnic studies is offering Crossing the Line: A Forum on Immigration.

When: Friday, May 19, 5:30-9:00 and Saturday, May 20, 9:30am—12:00
Where: Parrington Commons, 120 Kane Hall, and the HUB.
Sponsor: UW's Department of American Ethnic Studies
Co-Sponsors: Office of Minority Affairs, Diversity Research Institute, and Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP)
Props to: Erica Lomelí, Mari Matsumoto, the Ethnic Cultural Center & Theatre, and MEChA
this event is exciting to me for a number of reasons. first, it is clear that immigration has become a key issue in america - a key issue for human rights, a key issue for contemporary social movements, a key issue for fear mongering, and a key issue for the 2006 election. for those reasons, let's educate ourselves and others.

second, the two keynote speakers are impressive. thomas sáenz is, among many other things, lead counsel to the mayor of los angeles and francisco estrada is, also among many other things, the director of public policy for MALDEF (mexican american legal defense and educational fund).

third, saturday's roundtable discussions, "Law, Labor and Advocacy" and "Immigrant Communities: Myths & Realities," look really interesting. i especially like how the participants are primarily from community organizations (NWIRP, Comité Pro-Amnistía General, Hate Free Zone, From Hate to Hope, Seattle Public Schools, and Sea Mar) while the moderators are UW faculty. too often, academics talk to rather than listen to the community.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"the water and jade - we mix"

brief notes from tonight's america's top model

without jade, there's no show. she's the most competitive and the most cut-throat. plus, she's mean! which, naturally, makes her the most entertaining. she's also totally, utterly delusional. but, you have to admit, nearly each time she takes the best shots. i predict she'll be in the final two, but no way will she win.

danielle. first, they make her have tooth surgery to fix a gap she doesn't want fixed. second, they tell her to stop talking the way she talks (she has a nice, kinda slow southern voice). two times: she's told to keep her mouth shut. but she bounces back. trying to bust into an industry based on the unreal, danielle seems to have at least a few ounces of real remaining.

best laugh out loud line:
    jade (who else?): "the water and jade - we mix."
best line overall:
    danielle: "when i show up and show out? it's a wrap."
and then there were three!

seattle film screening: final solution

Film Screening: Final Solution
Time: 6 - 9 pm, May 11, 2006
Place: 075 Johnson Hall, University of Washington
Host: South Asia Studies/Women's Center
Cosponsors: Human Rights Minor and the Center for the Study and Prevention of Ethnic Conflict
this is an international award-winning documentary about the politics of religious violence in India.

[from]: Set in Gujarat in 2002-2003, the Final Solution documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of the Muslim community in Gujarat. Final Solution was banned in India by the Censor Board for several months. The ban was lifted in October 2004 after a sustained campaign (an online petition, hundreds of protest screenings countrywide, multi-city signature campaigns, and dozens of letters to the government).

following the film will be a Q & A featuring Drs. Cabeiri Robinson and Dan Chirot from the jackson school. more on facebook.

[thanks Irmina Haq for sending this along and for working hard and creatively to enlighted the UW community.]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

park branch library - sfpl

the park branch library (a branch within san francisco public library, or SFPL) will be my local public library in SF and i'm pretty excited about it. it opened on october 29th, 1909, and is the oldest existing SFPL building. the photo was taken circa 1916. i look forward to exploring the 26 SFPL branch libraries.

Monday, May 08, 2006


update (12.13.2006): i have finally begun work on irina's suggestion!

our new pad

sarah and i were in san francisco last weekend and we subletted a dream place in the lower haight. our place is on this block:

we'll be subletting the third floor of this place:

new pad + new city = happy:


Sunday, May 07, 2006

playing catch-up

i've been out of town for four days and during that time:

CIA director porter goss: gone

goss's rumored replacement michael hayden: potentially gone on arrival.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

how lame is godsmack?

i know nothing about the music of godsmack but i know an interesting interview when i read one. take the time to read this, an interview between a real journalist and the lead singer / military recruitment tool sully erna.

update: there's a sound file of the interview here. and a post and huge thread at the big time liberal blog firedoglake.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

may day

there's way too much to cover regarding the immigration rallies that took place across the US yesterday, and way too much to do today to prepare for travel this weekend, but i wanted to note the daily's coverage of seattle's events. in "Taking it to the streets," meghan erkkinen provides the text and matt lutton provides the pics. chris paredes, director of La Raza, and william rorabaugh, a UW professor of history, offer some great insight. erkkinen reports that more than 15,000 marched (the Seattle PI, here, suggest 30,000) - numbers like that, replicated across the country, means we've got a movement.

in "History of May 1 labor rights rallies enhances protest's meaning," jen ludington provides some context of the importance of may day and integrates the perspectives of asuw vice president ashley miller, anti-racism white student union member bradford baker, and myself.

listen up: i've been at UW for five years and never - ever - has the daily churned out, over and over again, such great work. the paper, and everyone involved with it, is on a roll. it's a thing of beauty to behold.

Update: for those who don't read blog comments, what i saw today has a great photographic take on the seattle rallies. as always, she captures the human spirit of the event.

Monday, May 01, 2006

YouTube + front page

isn't it wild to see an article about YouTube on the front page of the washington post? smart, too:

    "Five Months After Its Debut, YouTube Is a Star: Online Video Site Could Help Create Old-Media Celebs, Too." By Sara Kehaulani Goo