Thursday, December 5, 2013

Generation Y or Generation Trophy?

Are you special?

Over at Huffpo "Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy" hit the blogosphere claiming that Generation Y GYPSYs (Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies) think they are "the main character of a very special story" and since they are the protagonist of their own story they are easily disappointed when everything doesn't go their way.

Ouch! That's gotta hurt.

Let's back up a minute here.  Who are these GYPSYs?  GYPSYs are "the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s . . [who are] also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y." So I guess that's most of today's traditional age college students.

GYPSY parents are part-Hippie, part-Yuppie.  Their grandparents are part of the Greatest Generation who grew up during the depression and then fought and won World War II - hence the "Pussies" comment from Gramps (btw, gramps says that about every succeeding generation).

GYPSY parents wanted good things for their kids, especially good things that came with less struggle than it did for them (again, hence the "Pussies").  They also were given another message growing up:  YOU ARE SPECIAL.  That's why I sometimes label GYPSYs, the "Trophy Generation."  Remember growing up and getting a trophy for being on the last place soccer team or the worst baseball player.  Remember getting a trophy for attending a science fair (even if you didn't enter anything).  Remember being told how wonderful you were by every cartoon character on television. Well, how did that work out for you?

Something else this article points out is that most of your parents didn't really know how their cohorts were doing, they were too busy raising you and going to work.  On the other hand, YOU know everything about all your cohorts due to social  media and since we only post good things about ourselves, we think all our "friends" are light years ahead of us.  Just keep this in mind - that "job" your "friend" got at CBS is really an unpaid internship where she spends most of her day picking up dry cleaning and getting donuts for the boss.

Don't you think when you hit the job market that all those special feelings you've been bombarded with as a kid will give you set of unrealistic expectations that could lead to disappointment? 

"The funny thing about the world is that it turns out to not be that easy of a place, and the weird thing about careers is that they're actually quite hard. Great careers take years of blood, sweat and tears to build -- even the ones with no flowers or unicorns on them -- and even the most successful people are rarely doing anything that great in their early or mid-20s"

Yikes! This post is becoming depressing....

Here's some advice:
 1) Stay wildly ambitious. The current world is bubbling with opportunity for an ambitious person to find flowery, fulfilling success. The specific direction may be unclear, but it'll work itself out -- just dive in somewhere.
2) Stop thinking that you're special. The fact is, right now, you're not special. You're another completely inexperienced young person who doesn't have all that much to offer yet. You can become special by working really hard for a long time.
3) Ignore everyone else. Other people's grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today's image crafting world, other people's grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you'll never have any reason to envy others.
Do you think that a childhood of praise is detrimental to an adult?  Do you think it could lead to unrealistic expectations?  Since most of this blog's readers are still in college, how do you think you'll cope with the "real" world?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Reading with a Pencil - Even Mark Twain Did It!

Mark Twain the author of such literary greats as Puddn'head Wilson and Huckleberry Finn was also a humorist and essayist.  His avid reading took him across disciplines as was common in 19th century America and some of his annotations have been featured in an article on "Twain's Viciously Funny Marginalia".

Heaven help John Dryden, the translator of Plutarch's Lives, which, is "Translated from the Greek" into, as Twain annotates, "rotten English . . . the whole carefully revised and corrected by an ass."  As you can see, Twain had some strong feelings about the English language and did not hesitate to talk back to his texts.

On the title page of Saratoga in 1901, Twain renames the volume Saratoga in 1891, or The Droolings of an Idiot.

What do you look for when annotating a text?  Are you summarizing paragraphs in the margin? Are you talking back to the text the way Twain does?

When you talk back to a text you are engaging in critical thinking, probably the most important skill you should take away from college.  In addition to writing memory prompt marginalia, what kind of annotations do you use that engages you with a text?  In other words, what kind of critical thinking do you employ when reading with a pencil? 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let's Change the Anatomy of the World's Top CEOs

According to the graphic "Anatomy of the World's Top-Performing CEOs" created by Domo the average CEO is a married guy with a receding hairline who has 3.1 children (I feel sorry for that .1 child).

Furthermore he went to some fancy college.  On the other hand, only 29 percent hold an MBA and 61 percent were educated outside of the United States.

Here's a stat that should make you smile, 79 percent were promoted from within; meaning hang in there and you can make your way up the corporate ladder.

Here's another plus.  Many of the top companies are in California.

What's missing?

How old are these guys?  Receding hairlines and 3.1 children implies middle age.  It seems that experience (not just education) has a lot to do with a CEOs capabilities.

What else is missing?

Women.  Only two of the top 100 CEOs are women!

Why in the 21st century do you think there are so few top women CEOs?  Do women dislike being CEOs?  Are women not cut out to be CEOs?  You can't just say it's because there are so many great foreign companies--34 percent of the Top 100 companies are in the U.S.  How does gender contribute to this lopsided statistic?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

That is the question.  Well, apparently not for one high school senior attending an informational seminar for Bowdoin College, the school to which she had applied.

"Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.

"Perhaps she hadn’t realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions," reported Dean Meikeljohn in "They Loved Your GPA Then They Saw Your Tweets."

And you thought only employers would track such things?

Think about it, if you owned a company or were the Dean of a college wouldn't you want to know what people are saying about your product, company, or college?  Of course, you would.  Would-be employers or colleges don't just Google perspective employees or students, they keep track of their web reputation as well. 

"'We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,' Mr. Meiklejohn, the dean Bowdoin said.

"As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects. In fact, new research from Kaplan Test Prep, the service owned by the Washington Post Company, suggests that online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing.

"Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31 percent said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects."

30 percent didn't make it to the school of their choice because of some DUMB comment, picture, tweet, or tag that they had posted online.

"Gary L. Ross, Colgate’s a dean of admission at Colgate once called a student, to whom the college had already offered acceptance, to check whether an alcohol-related incident that was reported online was indeed true. (It was, and Colgate rescinded the offer of admission.)"

Really?  Does someone really have to tell you not to post that picture of you chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels online? It has become so bad that high schools are now giving high school students tutoring on how to spiff up their internet presence.

"Guidance counselors are tutoring students in scrubbing their digital identities. At Brookline High School in Massachusetts, juniors are taught to delete alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses. One junior’s original email address was “bleedingjesus,” said Lenny Libenzon, the school’s guidance department chairman. That changed.

"'They imagine admissions officers are old professors,' he said. 'But we tell them a lot of admissions officers are very young and technology-savvy.'"  It's not just a bunch of old guys with elbow patches on their jacket smoking a pipe and reading hand written personal essays.  Professors deal with technology every day.

I once had a student whose email address was "yourfacebites".  It was really annoying to keep getting emails directed at my face, in fact, so annoying I sent an email to the student saying I'm not answering your queries  unless you change your address.

How about you, do you think you need to scrub your internet identity before applying to the University of California, Berkeley or that prospective company where you are just dying to work?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

MLA Citations

When you reach college you will be writing a variety of research papers and by the time you reach second year English, your instructors expect that you know how to paraphrase, quote, use in-text citations, and create a works cited page entry in your sleep.

Why is citation important? Plagiarism is one thing that can get your kicked out of college. Your ideas and your writing belong to you. Just like my thoughts and my writings belong to me and Shakespeare's thoughts and writings belong to him. So give credit where credit is due.

Here are a couple of quizzes to test your knowledge:

Click on the link for an In-Text Citation Quiz offered by McGraw-Hill

Click on the next link for a Works Cited Quiz created by McGraw-Hill.

So how did you do? Were you surprised by how much you knew about in-text citations and works cited entries? Or how much you need to learn? Don't worry it's not too late there are all kinds of online resources for avoiding plagiarism. I would also recommend that you get a good used Writer's Handbook and keep it on your desk.

Remember, it is not enough to just drop an entry on the Works Cited page, you must include in-text citations following everything in your papers that is not your idea.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Much Does Google and Facebook Know About You

In April 2012, The UK Guardian ran a story entitled "How to Download Your Data From Google and Facebook" and offers the following step-by-step instructions into your digital life.

Google The Google user data which you're able to access through the site's transparency services are split across three places.

Dashboard: The dashboard is the principal place to get information on all your Google services – and includes data from Picasa, Gmail, YouTube, search histories and more. You can get to it at – expect to have to re-enter your password, even if logged in.

Account Activity: The dashboard has been going for three years now, but Google have added a new monthly monitoring feature with a few extra bits of information in the last month. Called Account Activity, it gives info on how much you've used different services, from which computers and browsers, and some extra bits of information. It's delivered to your inbox after signing up at the link.

Ad preferences: Google says its personalisation of display ads doesn't rely on your account data, but on your browsing history. This can be quite fun to view, especially Google's guess at your age and gender. You can view it here.


Facebook lets you download a history of the data you've put on the site. This is fairly limited in that it doesn't show many classes of information – wallposts on other people's profiles, others' photos of you, and more. That said, there is a lot contained in the two releases you can get.

You get the archive through Facebook account settings . Then find and click "Download a copy of your Facebook data". This includes lots of information that will be unsurprising – your photos, wall and notes – and maybe a few bits you wouldn't expect.

You can also request an "enhanced archive", which gives details of your logins and logouts, IP addresses, personal details, friend requests and (naturally) pokes.

So if you think you are relatively anonymous on the web, think again. Big Brother now lurks on your own Google and Facebook accounts -- and prospective employers aren't far behind.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Employment and Education "Experts" Collide

The Chronicle of Higher Ed's article Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Communicate displays ambivalent attitudes and a complete lack of real world experience--not by students or employees--but by managers, employers, and professors that peddle such nonsense to students and the community-at-large.

What nonsense you ask?  Being "well-rounded with a range of abilities" will land you that fab job you've been dreaming about.

Why the attitude?  Here's why.  If a company is hiring for a position that requires a Bachelor's Degree in marketing, finance, or business, it doesn't matter that upper management or your local professor believes "Being well-rounded with a range of abilities is more important than having industry expertise because job-specific skills can be learned at work."

Upper management is never going to meet that well-rounded person because that well-rounded person will never pass the initial screening process.  This kind of well-meaning, blather does NOT help those entering the job market.

Job seekers have to meet the job market where it stands and if professors or upper-management employers want a reality check, go read the want ads.  Nobody is looking for a "well-rounded" individual with a wide "range of abilities," they are advertising for persons who have a "B.S. Degree in Business, Healthcare Administration, Accountancy or Finance."

I completely agree that a "well-rounded individual with a range of abilities" is a desirable employee indeed, but the person opening the envelope (or email) is simply doing their job when they are told to send the "Thanks, but no thanks" letter to all applicants who don't have the required degree.

Worst of all are students who feel that just having a degree--any degree--will take them somewhere, and while that may be true, all it says to employers is that students can stick out five more years of school, but I guess that is something.

So professors, do your students a favor and have them focus on really learning something in college, whether it is finance, humanities, marketing, or history.

Students, I ask you once again what's your major?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Potential Employers DO Google You!

It's amazing how many newbies to the job market, aka I just got out of college and need a job, think that employers do NOT Google them.

Google is the greatest screener available to a Human Resource department AND it's FREE!  Why wouldn't they use every tool available to them to find that perfect employee?

So what's a perfect employee?  Well, that depends on the job, but let's think about what the employee from hell looks like.

The Ranter - the person who goes on Facebook, Twitter, RateMyProfessor, or the myriad other social media outlets and rants about his or her job, friends, teachers, or parents.  The last thing an employers wants is an employee with the potential to rant about their job, fellow employees, or boss!

The Grammatical Nincompoop - the person who can't be bothered spell checking or proofreading their posts.  Think about it.  Have you ever used Facebook--especially if you like text messaging language--and then go back and read how spell checker has changed your post?  Yikes -- proofreading does pay off.

The Partier - really?  Do you really need to be reminded not to post pics while chugging tequila in a tutu, or posting sexually explicit comments?

Take a minute to Google yourself and think about what a potential employer sees.  Do you feel the need to scrub your social media accounts?

Friday, September 13, 2013

The 12 Types of Procrastinators and Kittens

How did I run across this great comic?  I was procrastinating of course!  Instead of grading papers, working on lesson plans, or writing the myriad papers that are coming due, I was cruising through Facebook and this little gem from Mashable caught my eye.

What kind of procrastinator am I?

The Cleaner - definitely - my house could always use a good scrubbing before I actually start grading papers or writing.  Although, lots of thinking gets done as my bathroom starts to shine (that's justification on top of procrastination).

The Sidetracker - yes, sometimes writing about comics is a lot more fun than grading papers (no offense).

The Social Sharer - my Facebook page is always open AND thank goodness I have never really figured out how to twitter.

The Internet Researcher - but it is legitimate research.  After all, I teach short film.

A friend once said, "You can get a lot of procrastinating done in twenty minutes."  It took me twenty minutes to figure out what he meant.

Here's the kitten part of this post.  In these postmodern days of new fangled apps there are all kinds of ways to boost productivity including Written? Kitten! which Mashable says "isn't a plugin or extension, but rather a helpful tool if you respond well to positive reinforcement. Each time you reach a goal (for example, you hit 500 words in your essay), the site rewards you with an adorable picture of a kitten, generated from Flickr. Meowww."

How do you avoid procrastination?  Do you have every social media window open while you try to do homework?  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Think You're Good at Multitasking? Think Again.

Visual Academy recently released a graphic outlining the pitfalls of multitasking.

According to the studies they reviewed only 2 percent of us can multitask with any credibility.

Here's something I bet you didn't know - you will actually spend LESS time doing any set of activities if you do them one at a time AND that includes studying and homework.

Do you know that the majority of students spend over an average of 100 minutes per day on Facebook?!  I know we like to stall as long as possible instead of actually studying, but  that's almost two hours extra time spent "doing homework"!

AND...worst of all studies connect a correlation between dropping GPAs and increasing time spent on Facebook.  The average non-Facebooker has a GPA of 3.82 while you Facebook junkies have an average GPA of 3.06. Yikes.

Not to mention Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, Google+, etc., etc., etc.

Oh, and when you're finished looking to see what your "friends" are doing, how about texting?!

Students send an average of 97 texts per day.  What?  That extends your "homework" time even further.

As Visual Academy says, "It's one thing to be doing laundry and listening to music" it's something quite different to be reading your textbook, texting with your friends, looking at social media, and writing a paper.  Why?  For one reason it seems that those activities are all done with the same part of your brain.

What should you do?  What do you think?  Turn off your cellphone, shut down Facebook, and read your textbook and then write your paper.  Do one thing at a time and you'll get done faster AND get better grades.

Do you have to fight off texting and social media when you study?  What strategies would you suggest to your fellow students to resist the multitasking temptation?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How Much Will Your College Loan Payments Be?

It is amazing how many college students, 1) Don't know their total student loan obligation; and, 2) Don't know the amount of their loan payments.  This is especially puzzling since students will be repaying their loans for TEN years!

Don't get me wrong, I understand how it happens:  students borrow a little or a lot each semester and between school, part time jobs, and homework fail to keep track of all those loans--and they add up!

According to Forbes Magazine, "College graduates with the average $27,000 in student loan debt can end up making payments of over $300 a month for 10 long years. There are only so many dollars to go around, and because of the student loan burden, these are people who have difficulty carving out funds to save, pay down debt and invest for retirement. They may have to delay purchasing a home because they are paying up to 15% of their incomes for the college degree that landed them the job."

"Oh, well," you say.  "I have to go to college to get a decent job and it's expensive."  But does that expense relate to prosperity across a lifetime?

"The research found that students who graduate with debt wind up with significantly less wealth in the long term than those who didn’t. In fact, the researchers estimated that a combined $53,000 in student loan debt would result in a loss of $208,000 for a dual-headed household over its lifetime, since they’d have less to save and invest while trying to pay down their student loans."

If you're a current college student, track your debt and think about how much you have to pay per month once you leave school - and you better hope the job immediately upon graduation.

One student I know spent $108,000 going to school to be a social worker.  Her loan obligation for the next ten years:  $1242.86.  Do social workers even make that much a month?  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a social worker can expect to make $42,480 per year.  That's $3540 per month before taxes.  Yikes.  BTW, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great resource for researching careers.

If you want to find out your monthly debt obligation, click on this link for a loan calculator that will tell you exactly what your student loans will cost you each month once you finish school:

What advice can you give college students to keep their student loans to a minimum?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Need to Get to LA Fast?

Try the hyperloop and get there in 35 minutes-at least that's the proposal of Elon Musk, creator and founder of Paypal and Tesla Motors.  According to Musk, his proposed system would cost $6 billion compared to the high speed rail now being taxpayer funded for a whopping $68.4 billion.  Best of all a round trip ticket would cost $20.

How does it work?  According to Visual News, "Musk and his team think that by pumping much of the air out of the tube and creating an atmosphere equivalent to that at 150,000 feet (45,720 meters) the drag within the system would be lowered to such a state that near supersonic speeds are attainable with little resistance. Wheels at this speed are no longer an option (due to stability and drag issues) so instead an ‘air bearing’ would be employed. These would be extremely strong metal plates on the bottom of the pod that blow air through their center; supporting the pod much like the puck on an air hockey table."

Passengers would travel in pods that hold 28 people (see figure 4).  The tube would be outfitted with solar panels in order to power the "electric motors much like those used on a modern roller coaster, and because the air-based drag within the tube would be so low, only 1% of the distance would require power. The solar panels would be mounted atop the systems tubes, providing continuous day and night operation."

Musk admits that  "Much research and testing needs to be done on the Hyperloop idea to see if it will really work, so he’s making the idea open source and calling for all the help he can get. Read more about the highly interesting project at where you can find a fascinating 58 page PDF with tech details."

What would it feel like?  "A cross between a Concorde, a railgun, and an air hockey table." 

Who's going to create and build this system?  Current college students - that means YOU.  Speaking of careers, what's your major?

Monday, August 19, 2013

7 Valuable Lessons We Can Learn From Superheroes

Any reader of comic books knows that superheroes represent something bigger than ourselves, people (or beings) that live to right wrongs in a society that doesn't accept their superpowers.  Huffington Post has a nice slide show about the seven most valuable lessons you can learn from superheroes.

No. 1 - We all have alter egos. Like Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man "we too have alter egos—different sides of ourselves that come out, depending on the context and the people we are with. We may think, feel, and act differently when we’re with our parents than when we’re with our children," our friends, professors, or bosses.

No. 2 - The Costume Counts."You don’t have to wear tights or a cape to understand that what you wear affects other people: Whether you’re wearing a unitard, a police officer’s uniform, grungy jeans and a Jack Daniels T-shirt, or a three-piece suit, your 'costume' counts. Based on how you appear, [people] make inferences about you (which may or may not be true). And those inferences will affect how they treat you, which will in turn, consciously or unconsciously, affect you."  This is so true, especially in your working life.  Oh, and you goths don't scare me anymore, but change your "costume" for your job interview.

No. 3 - We are all different.  "Every superhero is unique. The same is true of us. We share qualities with others—our ethnicity, religion, and gender, as well as psychological qualities such as our temperament, interests, motivations, 'issues'.” It's that difference that makes it fun to meet new people.

No. 4 -  Being different can give you power.  "Superheroes teach us to use our 'differentness'—to treat it as a gift and to put that gift to good use by serving others."  You may have to start with yourself, yes this is where I say stay in school and become the first to graduate college in your family!

No. 5 - Adversity can be overcome.  "Adversity induces us to challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world, and then to develop new meaning, fulfillment, and connections to others as a result."  Having it easy isn't always the best way--trust me.

No. 6 - No matter what your abilities life can be frustrating. "For many heroes—particularly the human superheroes such as Batman, Iron Man, Green Arrow, and Buffy (yes, she’s a superhero in my book)—the ability to persevere in the face of frustration is a superpower. One we can all try to cultivate."  Again, having it easy isn't always the best way.

No. 7 - Running toward danger.  Overcoming your fears.  "When we’re afraid of something, we try to avoid it, but in doing so, our lives may become narrowed and, in some cases, too narrowed. When this happens, we can take a page from a superhero book, take a deep breath, learn some new skills, and face our fears."  You may not feel like a superhero right now, but think of yourself as a super student and you're half-way there.

How can you become a superhero? What makes you a super student?  Which of these lessons would you like to apply to your academic life?  What excellent mistake have you made when running toward danger?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shakespeare Meets Science Fiction

If the Bard of Avon had written Star Wars, here's how it would have started:

"In time so long ago begins our play / In star-crossed galaxy far, far away."

At least that's how Ian Doescher imagines it in William Shakespeare's Star Wars.

For those of you stumped by Shakespeare's language this may be a good way to launch into a galaxy some find so far away, a fun way to develop your ear for Shakespeare. William Shakespeare's Star Wars is available at Amazon and as one reviewer put it, ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying...pretty much everything.

"Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter—and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations--William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for."
Luke Skywalker poses like Hamlet in this black-and-white illustration by Nicholas Delort.
Here's the perfect gift for your special 501st Legionnaire or anyone who appreciates science fiction OR Shakespeare.

What other works can you see Shakespeare re-imagining?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Skinny Jeans: Gotta Have it? Make it Stop?

Going to the Oscars?  Top your skinny jeans with a sequin top.

Going to a business meeting?  Wear a jacket with your skinny jeans.

Going to a ball game?  Your Giant's cap will look stunning with those skinny jeans.

Going to a funeral?  They make black skinny jeans.
If you watch TV, read magazines, or shop at the mall you would think that everybody from pregnant women to your boyfriend wears skinny jeans.  As a Professor I get to go "back to school" shopping too.  All I want this year are a couple of pairs of slacks.  BUT if you go to Macy's, Target, KMart, Ross, T.J. Max, Old Navy, Sears, or Nordstrom's you would think that everybody wears blue denim skinny jeans.

Here's some images you'll never scrub from your brain:  Grandma in skinny jeans!  How about your mom in skinny jeans? Skinny jeans with a muffin top.  Skinny jeans where the crotch is so low you get a moon shot.  And what's up with drop-crotch skinny jeans? Don't even get me started on jeggings!

I know this is a bit off topic for this blog, but do you think it would be appropriate for your professor to show up to class in skinny jeans?  Yikes, there's another one of those images.  Do you think it would be appropriate to show up for a job interview in skinny jeans--unless of course you're going for that super model job you've always dreamed of.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Birth of an Intolerant Nation

D.W. Griffiths' Birth of a Nation is billed as the first full-length narrative motion picture.  The story line depicts the Klu Klux Klan as a sympathetic misunderstood organization and African Americans as, at the very least, ignorant, while southern whites were victims.

A big part of the problem (at least for Griffith's) was that during Reconstruction African Americans came into political power.
Nowhere else in the South did blacks become the dominant force in gaining equality through self-governance than in South Carolina, the only state to have a black majority in the legislature during Reconstruction.
 Here's how D.W. Griffiths depicts that august body:

Today we wouldn't put up with this kind of overt racism and in 1915 when this movie came out many people didn't put up with it either.
The NAACP protested against the film’s fabrications and inaccuracies. Riots broke out in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities. And Griffith’s legacy never recovered, even if he tried to atone (some say) in 1916 with the release of Intolerance, another masterpiece of the Silent Era.
"Intolerance featured massive sets, extravagant period costumes, and more than 3,000 extras, and, in grand fashion, it wove together 'four distinct but parallel stories that demonstrated mankind’s intolerance during four different ages in world history.'”

You can watch Griffiths' 3-hours of Intolerance at

Do current films portray and encourage intolerance?  How and why do you think filmmakers create these films?  To create controversy?  To get the public chattering abut their movie?

Are you a film or art major?  What do you want to show or tell the world through your art?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Even STEM Schools NEED Art

Did you know that ART Department students from Cal State, East Bay made a film that was previewed at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival?  What?  With all the talk about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, you didn't even know CSUEB had an art department?  Not only does it have an art department, it has a GREAT art department, and as has been discussed on this blog in the past, everybody needs art--even scientists.

Translucent, a short horror film by Justin Nunez and Joshua Folsom, won multiple awards from Campus Moviefest, including Campus Best Picture, Campus Finalist, Best Actor and Best Cinematography (read more).  Moviefest is the world's largest student film festival and Translucent's top honors earned it the right to be included at the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner for new filmmakers.

Check out Translucent and see why it was chosen to go to Cannes.

An excited Justin Nunez was able to travel to Cannes through a sponsorship from the CSUEB art department where he was able to network with other filmmakers and industry luminaries.

What creative outlet do you have outside the lab? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Even Superheroes Get Cancer

When stricken by a deadly disease, the world's greatest doctors developed a Superformula to help Batman recover his strength.  After recieving his intravenous treatment, it wasn't long before he was back fighting super villains whenever the bat signal lit up Gotham's night sky.

To a child, cancer must seem like some kind of cartoon nightmare they can't control or understand, but "as any good cancer doctor will tell you, the most important step in fighting the disease is believing in a cure," reports Buzz Feed who recently featured an article about  rebranding Chemotherapy at a Children's Cancer Center in Brazil.

The cancer "Superformula" now comes in intravenous bag covers featuring the iconic WonderWoman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman logos.

In addition to the Superformula, young patients can read comics about how their favorite superhero battled cancer --and survived.  Even the children's ward has been redesigned as the Hall of Justice where our most vulnerable super heroes have their own entrance to their secret Lair of Cures.

Warner Bros., the ad agency JWT, and doctors designed the campaign as a way to help children understand their disease, its challenges, and its cure as these young patients fight the real world's greatest super villain.

But all superheros need a uniform.  How would you design a superhero uniform for our doctors and nurses as they deliver the Superformula to our young heroes?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Top 10 Most Dramatic Art Finds of 2012

Can you guess the number one art find of 2012?  If you've followed this blog for any amount of time you probably can.

Yep, that's right Action Comics No. 1. 

While remodeling a house bought for $10,100, David Gonzalez ripped out a wall and found a pristine copy of the Man of Steel's first comic appearance.  It has already been bid up to $113,000 and would be worth more except the cover got ripped after Gonzalez found the book.  That rip dropped the book's value by $100,000.  The last pristine copy of AC 1 sold for over $2 million.

Some other notable finds of 2012 according to are a lost Da Vinci found in a Scottish farmhouse, which if it turns out to be real, is estimated to be worth over $150 million.  A $7 flea market find that led to the recovery of a stolen Renoir snatched six decades ago from the Baltimore Museum of Art and a painting titled "The White Owl" by William James, a pre-Raphaelite artist, was found in an attic and valued at over $113,000.

Found anything good at the flea market?  The next time Grannie asks you to help her clean out the attic, you might want to think twice.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Direct Marketing

...and I do mean direct!  In the 2002 movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise, the protagonist enters a mall, is scanned, and then targeted by a variety of direct marketing ads.

See for yourself!

Today you are scanned the moment you sit at your computer and begin shopping on the internet.  As Michael Learmonth says in "The Pants that Stalked Me on the Web," after shopping for a pair of shorts he began receiving internet ads aimed at his desire to buy summer pants.  Being a marketing executive he "know[s] why I'm getting these ads. But as a consumer I'd be creeped out by it, and definitely a little annoyed."

On the other hand, Miguel Helft and Tanzina Vega report that "this form of highly personalized marketing is being hailed as the latest breakthrough because it tries to show consumers the right ad at the right time."  So internet advertisers are doing us all a favor, we aren't inundated with ads for products we aren't interested in only products that may coax those dollars from our wallets.

It seems that most people aren't too concerned about this kind of targeted marketing, so does that mean that biometric ad targeting isn't far behind?

What do you think?  Are all the surveillance cameras in our society going to be taken over by direct marketers to inundate us with ads tailored to our wants and desires?  Creeped out yet?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You Need a Library Card

Why you ask?

There's a couple of reasons.  First if you have a long commute (mine is 1 hour each way), and you are sick of the radio or want to try something different, you can check out any number of audio books.

If you like comics you might check out The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon.  If you are taking a literature class, most classic books are available on CDs.  Listening to a book is a great way to discover new things about a text using an audible learning style.

But what does this have to do with the sword in this post?

My library card got me into San Francisco's Asian Art Museum to see China's Terracotta Warriors for FREE - and what an incredible exhibit.  
China's Terracotta Warriors were commissioned by the First Emperor, Qin Shihuang (259-210 BCE) conquered much in this life, but his driving purpose was even greater: He sought to conquer death. In order to achieve immortality, he built himself a tomb—a vast underground city guarded by a life-size terracotta army including warriors, infantrymen, horses, chariots and all their attendant armor and weaponry.This exhibition includes ten figures—a representative sample of the actual army, which is estimated to include more than 7,000 life-sized figures and over 10,000 weapons.
The picture does not begin to do justice to this bronze sword with its jade inlaid gilt grip.  There are some things you just have to see to appreciate, and I bet you never expected your library card could do that for you.

With my library card I can also visit Cartoon Art Museum, the Oakland Museum, the Aquarium, Bay Area Discovery Museum, California Shakespeare Theater, the Academy of Sciences and much more.  So go get a library card and spend some free time at premier San Francisco Bay Area venues.

What are you going to do this summer?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Great Gatsby New Millenium Style

Keith Patterson recently created an infographic that explores how the 1920's world of Jay Gatsby stacks up against the rich and famous today -- specifically the rich and famous who are playing the roles of the Roaring Twenties uberwealthy characters in the recently released Great Gatsby movie directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Click here to view the full-size original over at

According to Patterson, "Fitzgerald's young artist, writer and multi-talented friends inspired his classic novel about one of America's most indulgent periods."  How do you think the nouveau riche of the new millenium compare to those at the beginning of the 20th century?  How do you think our hip-hop, movie star, reality TV megalomaniacs compare to the characters of The Great Gatsby?  

How do books reflect culture?  If you wrote an updated version of The Great Gatsby where would you set your book and how would you define your characters?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Batman or Ironman?

Just title this "Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous."

Whose lifestyle is more expensive, Batman or Ironman?

If you're Tony Stark, you not only have to invent and pay for all those cutting edge, blow-them-up, and run-them-over kind of gadgets, you also have to maintain your lifestyle as one of Los Angeles' rich and famous.

His house alone costs $25,000,000.  His computer system is over $10,000,000 and then there are his cars and his suits.  Yikes that's quite a bill.

But like we say over here a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's an infographic from Mashable (click here fore a full-size Ironman graphic).

 In order to live like Ironman you are going to need $10,086,485,000.00. 

Yes, college is a good choice if you are looking to make that kind of money.

What about Batman, you ask?

Bruce Wayne has own lifestyle obligations that include not only the Batmobile and outfitting the Batcave, but also Wayne manor, a butler, a bunch of girlfriends, and awesome globe-trotting vacations.

Again that's according to Here's how it breaks down visually from Mashable (click here for a full-size Batman graphic).

The Batmobile alone costs $18,000,000 and rebuilding Wayne Manor and the Batcave cost over $600,000,000!

In order to live like Batman you are going to need $682,450,750.00.

Batman's a deal, you say?  Well, don't quit your day job, or as you parents might say "Stay in school."

Personally, I want to live like Batman. Tony Stark has too many responsibilities. I want an alter ego that can act as silly as one wants before snapping into action at the appearance of the Bat signal.

Who would you want to live like, Batman or Ironman?

On the other hand, it would be cool to major in science and invent all these uber-cool, ultra-secret gadgets.

What's your major?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pakistani Dave Brubeck

I almost clicked by the title "Pakistani Musicians Play Dave Brubeck's Take Five", but then curiosity got the better of me -- and am I glad. Take a listen:

Sitars? Tabla drums? Violins? What?

The Guardian featured the group in a recent article saying,
The Sachal Studios Orchestra was created by Izzat Majeed, a philanthropist based in London. When Pakistan fell under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s, Pakistan’s classical music scene fell on hard times. Many musicians were forced into professions they had never imagined — selling clothes, electrical parts, vegetables, etc. Whatever was necessary to get by. Today, many of these musicians have come together in a 60-person orchestra that plays in a state-of-the-art studio, designed partly by Abbey Road sound engineers.

So while we are all so busy trying to get through school, remember you have a long life ahead of you and you need to do something besides work...maybe playing music.

What do you do for fun?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

3rd Annual O'Keefe Graphic Literature Prizes Announced

Diablo Valley College's 3rd Annual Prize for Graphic Literature surpasses all expectations and showcases the art of some amazing aspiring artists.

Go Fish by Ana Valdez is the Grand Prize Winner; a story of love where you find it between a lonely fisherwoman and a mermaid.

The Runners Up included The Amazing Uncanny Aviator by Emily Pate and Sarah Luver, a spoof of the mainstream superhero comic, and Nick Pino’s Ass Birth One: The Day the Earth Said F@ck, a tale of a boy and his dog. Ass Birth One also won the George Herriman Prize. The Herriman Prize Runner Up was awarded to Kelly Conroy’s Annoying F***tard a knock, knock joke gone incredibly annoying.

An Apple A Day Keeps Everyone Else Away by Sheemul Gupta won the Charles Schultz Award with its lifelong tale of technology’s lonely consequences. “What Does He Want…?” by the creative trio Aly Murphy, Dan Povenmire, and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, was the Shultz Runner Up in its search for the perfect Christmas gift.

Dorena Hinh’s A Zombie’s Survival Guide to the Human Apocalypse!!! earned the Joe Schuster Award with its makeover handbook for the undead told by a loveable little zombie.

One Newcomer Award went to Tom Valdespino’s My Hero vs. His Mind, a real life narrative about the author/illustrator’s uncle, “the greatest man in the world, and his lifelong battle with the demon known as schizophrenia.” Another Newcomer comic awarded was The Lost World created by the comic duo Greg Childs and Brenda Cudd, an apocalyptic look at an underwater future where merpeople terrorize humans.

Megan Lotter’s heroic journey entitled On Surviving the Search for Self won the Lynda Barry Award, while the Runner Up, Kellyn Borst’s Daydream Believer, examines waking dreams and the consequence of memory.

Abraham Reyes’ Timothy, a gothic love story, won the Edward Gorey Award for its tale of misplaced hearts.

To view any of the winning comics in their entirety go to:

The James O’Keefe Prize is offered in memory of DVC’s beloved Professor O’Keefe who created the Graphic Novel as Literature course. DVC offers transfer level courses and an Associate’s Degree in Art, ArtDigital Media, and English. Professors Adam Bessie, Doré Ripley, and Arthur S. King hosted the event which received over 100 entries . Prizes included art packs, tickets to Big WOW! ComicFest and cash awards. Plans are already underway for next year’s contest.

Do you have a love for writing and art?  Maybe a career in comics is for you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Got 18 Minutes to Learn the History of the World?

You can learn the history of the world starting with the Big Bang and covering the next 13.7 billion years brought to you by Open Culture: Big History . . . and all in less than 18 minutes.

David Christian, a professor at Australia’s Macquarie University and formally trained as a Russian historian, Christian began working on Big History in the 1980s, a meta discipline that “examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities.”
Need to brush up on your history - ALL history - give this lecture a try.

After watching the video, can you appreciate lessons taught via video outline and graphics?

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Love Spell Check

I may love spell checker, but sometimes I think it makes writers lazy.  I know I often have to open up a blank Word document to check on a simple word that I can't remember how to spell.

This poor student has spent way too much time in front of his or her computer and can no longer spell.  If you type the following poem into Word, not a single word comes up misspelled and, according to Word, there are only four grammar mistakes.

Eye Halve a Spelling Checker

I halve a spelling checker

It came with my pea sea

It plainly marcs four my revue

Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word

And weight four it two say

Weather eye am wrong oar write

It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long

And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it

I am shore your pleased to no

Its letter perfect awl the weigh

My check tolled me sew.

Have spelling and grammar checking functions in your computer made you a lazy writer?  Should we worry that dependence on grammar and spell checkers are making us less literate?  Do you ever use your phone or computer to look up a word? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Rocky Football Field Just Missed Earth

Asteroid DA14 just streaked by the earth on February 15 - half the size of a football field. The day before a meteor hit Russia causing loads of damage and panic, and according to the experts these two events are unrelated.

Want to watch NASA track a DA14? Here's the footage:
Video streaming by Ustream
Here's something to think about. An asteroid the size of DA14 hit Earth on June 30, 1908 and levelled 820 square miles.

Accourding to NASA when DA14 makes its
closest approach to Earth at approximately 11:25 a.m. PST (2:25 p.m. EST / 19:25 UTC), the asteroid will be about 17,150 miles (27,600 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

The commentary will be available via NASA TV and streamed live online at: and
Many objects in outer space are discovered and tracked by astronimacal enthusiasts, people just like you and me. Should we have an agency that watches for these kinds killer asteroids?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Science in 1,000 Words

If you carefully look at the above rendering of the Saturn V Rocket, you will notice that the creator has used some pretty simple terminology. In fact, Randall Monroe employed only the 1,000 most frequently used words in English.
Under this restriction, the rocket was called "up-goer five," the command module was "people box," and the liquid hydrogen feed line was "thing that lets in cold wet air to burn." The comic inspired Theo Anderson, a geneticist who supports accessible science education, to build a text editor that would force the user to write with only the 1000 most frequent words. He then invited scientists to describe what they do using the editor.
Mental floss reported on the project which has been turned into "18 Complicated Scientific Ideas Explained Simply", scientific ideas ranging from olfactory biology, web development and political economy to paleomagnetism, particle physics and circadian rhythm biology where "Little flying animals can tell time of day. Little flying animals can tell time of year. It’s all in their heads." Bora Zivkovic"

Geologists Anne Jefferson and Chris Rowan created the Tumblr "Ten Hundred Words of Science" to help scientists create science for the rest of us.

Can you think of other areas where using the 1,000 most common words in the English language can help people understand complicated concepts?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Are Your Ancestors Super?

At Foto Marvellini, an art workshop in Milan, two brothers have released the family photos of your favorite superheroes. How they came across so many vintage portraits is unknown, but these pictures answer a lot of questions about why some superheroes adopted their demeanor, garb, and sensibilties.

Take Spiderman for example. Most fan boys and girls believe it was a radioactive spider that produced the web-spinning acrobat, but according to family tradition there seems to be an early twentieth century dapper dude who first donned the spidey mask. Maybe the spider gave Peter Parker his super powers, but there are some spiders in his family closet.

This portrait of Captain America's great-great-great grandma may explain his patriotic roots (and style) as the Victorian lady displays the cameo shield familiar to most readers.

Batman enthusiasts may now understand the penchant for the furry flying mammals as Great-grandad Wayne studies his stocks and bonds. No wonder there was a convenient batcave under the Wayne Manor foundations -- not to mention the studious nature he passed along to Bruce.

If you're interested in seeing more portraits of superhero ancestors, check out Foto Marvellini over at Visual News.

What superheroes do you have in your family tree?

Me? It's kind of hard to go farther back than my mom, the ruffled superhero raising two kids alone. A woman who could leap society's obstacles in a single bound and was definitley more powerful than a locomotive in the metaphorical sense.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Different Kind of Syllabus . . .

that I wish I could do, but I can't because my best drawing involves stick figures.

Lynda Barry, author of 100! Demons is teaching a course called the "Unthinkable Mind" at the University of Wisconsin during the Spring 2013 semester. Keep in mind this is not a graphic novel, comic, or "how to" art class, it is a class about how the different parts of our brain function. According to Open Culture Barry wants to appeal to both Humanities and Science majors by creating
A writing and picture-making class with focus on the basic physical structure of the brain with emphasis on hemispheric differences and a particular sort of insight and creative concentration that seems to come about when we are using our hands (the original digital devices) —to help us figure out a problem.
You can audit this course from home as Barry will be posting assignments to her Tumblr page.

Look at the first page of Barry's syllabus posted above, and other than drawings, how does it compare to the normal ten-page, single spaced, typewritten syllabus your professor usually hands out? Do you think pictures help students better understand what is expected of them? Would you like to get a syllabus like this?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Killer Ts

Here's a video that looks like it came right out of a science fiction movie, but it's not the blob or some other exterrestrial body snatcher. This fight takes place in our body every day--it's the microscopic battlefield of the Killer T Cells.

It's not just doctors and mad scientists who help solve the diseases that afflict us. This video was created by Alex Ritter, a student at the University of Cambridge to show what Killer Ts can do and was recently posted on Open Culture. "The process is shown at 92 times the actual speed. And for a sense of scale, a cytotoxic T cell is only 10 microns in length, or about one-tenth the width of a human hair."

Important? You bet! If we can figure out how these little killers work we can use them to fight disease.
Cytotoxic T cells are very precise and efficient killers. They are able to destroy infected or cancerous cells, without destroying healthy cells surrounding them….By understanding how this works, we can develop ways to control killer cells. This will allow us to find ways to improve cancer therapies, and ameliorate autoimmune diseases caused when killer cells run amok and attack healthy cells in our bodies.
What's your major?