Some political links

First, there’s always Bitch, Ph.D.’s links. They are always interesting. I ran into some though that I wanted to share.

Crooked Timber discusses a 527 group’s use of popup ads–which are currently unregulated–in the final days of the election.

For some lighter fare, but no less political, check out Tom Burka’s blog. You gotta laugh or you’ll cry.

And if you want to see something really fun, check out Tom Delay’s “defamation” of Daily Kos here, here, and here.

Technobabble, or the story of the mechanic who thinks

That would have been a decent name for my blog–but alas, I wasn’t thinking too straight when I named this thing–and really, I have talked more politics than techno. Tech has been keeping me busy lately. I usually get some time during the day to puruse the blogs, some of which are directly related to my work. I wear a lot of different hats at work. My official title is Sr. Instructional Technologist, which doesn’t mean much really. In theory, I am supposed to support the faculty in their use of technology in the classroom. What I find is the faculty who are using technology don’t need/want my help and the ones who aren’t don’t want to use it. Some of them end up being forced to use it, then call me when they don’t know what they’re doing. Although I have a lot of programs in place and I do a lot of outreach for the faculty, I end up with time to do other things–like web development and multimedia development.

Today my hats were more varied than usual. First, I attended a search committee meeting for head of our Art, Archaeology, Cities, and Classic Library. It was a discussion about the qualifications we wanted and the duties we wanted to highlight in the job description. The discussion was revealing because our CIO, who is also head of the library, wants the person to have some ideas about technology, meaning he wants them to be thinking about digital collections and tools to use those collections in research and teaching. The faculty at this meeting immediately jumped to the conclusion that he meant someone who knew their way around a computer and/or a course management system–a mechanic. I did not defend myself, but simply made my anthropological note for later.

That meeting was followed by a meeting with our college counsel to discuss the handling of our DMCA policy. I am the college’s DMCA agent. Our policy is not clearly stated and even those of us who administer the policy are not always clear on what to do. We hammered out what we were required to do and went on to discuss satellite radio and how cool it was.

Then, I finally had some time to myself. I spent it writing up a Blackboard (our course management system) FAQ that I’ve been working on and that will be shared–via Blackboard–with the two other colleges in our consortium.

Lunch, followed by the meeting of our Curriculum Support group where we talk about things we’re working on that are related to the college curriculum. Here is where we actually discuss pedagogy and technology. We spent the meeting discussing key points from the Educause conference–which I had to miss because Mr. GM was off at two other conferences. We also spent some time talking about results from a recent survey about technology literacy.

After that, I spent time talking to a colleague about our upcoming workshop on digitizing audio–from lp to cd.

Then I digitized some video, editing its sound and trimming it and exporting it into two different formats.

In between all of this stuff, I answer numerous e-mails and phone calls, usually about trivial matters.

A lot of hats. And this is a typical day–a good balance for the most part between the mechanical part of my job–using the technology and helping others use the technology and the Thinker part of my job–deciding how best to use that technology or discussing the broader issues surrounding technology and education. And that’s what I like about my job–I get to do both. What I don’t like about my job is when people think I don’t think, that I have no idea what it’s like to be in front of a classroom, that I’m a mechanic. Even the mechanic part of my job requires a lot of thought. There’s a lot of problem solving involved in using technology effectively.

I guess I’ve had one of those days that I felt went really well but that I wish more people understood, especially the people I work with. I am more than just the person who knows the exact path of your web directory and who can help you add a discussion to your Blackboard course. I can help you think about why you’d need a web directory in the first place and how to structure your online discussion to effectively enhance what you’re doing in the classroom. I have a brain and I’m not afraid to use it.

More polls

The American Research Group shows Kerry ahead in quite a few of the battleground states–including Florida. Bloomberg reports that polls in Florida are dead even or with Kerry in a slight lead. They also report that Kerry has gained about 4 points in Florida while Bush has lost 2. If Kerry gets Florida, life gets a little easier. There’s still Ohio to contend with.

In other news, Andrew Sullivan has endorsed Kerry for president. Read about it here and read his essay explaining his reasoning here.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I can take this. Is it just me or does the whole country feel on edge?

One week to go

I am anxious, nervous and excited. I’m sick that this election is boiling down to a few states. The Ohio polls are mixed, but all are close. The Wisconsin polls are a little less mixed but there are two results that are tied, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Kerry to win there. It looks like Bush is gaining ground in Minnesota, but earlier polls showed Kerry with quite a lead, so that state is still up in the air. New Mexico looks a little scary.

The ABC poll has Kerry ahead by a point. I saw snippets of Bush from Good Morning America. Charlie Gibson asked him what his views on homosexuality were again. He conceded that it was within the realm of possibility that homosexuality is a natural state and that no one should be denied rights based on sexual orientation. Then he went on to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Does he not realize that people would use the constitutional amendment to deny rights? Maybe he does, which is even scarier. I can’t find a clip anywhere, but it was kind of interesting–and scary.

Being a Mom

Yesterday and this morning, I was pure mom. I cleaned house. I went grocery shopping. I made apple pie. You can’t get much more mom than that. This morning, though, I put a roast in the crock pot–so I guess you can get more mom. Sometimes I think that it would be okay to be doing this stuff all the time. God knows, my house could use a full time mom around. There are piles of stuff everywhere. I can barely keep up with laundry and I’m doing good to make a meal that isn’t partially frozen.

I could do it–work full time and come home and do everything. But I don’t want to and I don’t really have to. People make you feel like you do though. You can see it on their faces when they see the suitcase in the corner that’s been there the last 10 times they’ve come to visit. It’s true, I’d much rather the suitcase not be there. I’d much rather not be staring at the pile of still-not-put-away clothes. But if I did all that, if I kept my house clean–and even if Mr. GM did more than the 10% he now does–I’d never have time to read a book, to write anything, to even breathe. I know, because I have friends that do this–both at home moms and work outside the home moms. Their houses are spotless. They have nice gardens and cute decorations outside. But they haven’t read a book in years. They’re barely keeping up with the news. They’re in bed by 10 because their kids get them up at 6. Maybe I’m lucky that I can stay up late, but I say it’s a choice. At book club last week, one mom had made it through a bunch of books. I myself had read two books instead of our allotted one book. Another mom–a go-to-bed-with-clean-house mom–said, “How do you find the time?” And the book-reading mom said, “When you love something, you just do it, you find the time?” And I thought, “Yeah, you go girl.” Because I don’t love housework. I don’t even really love a perfectly clean house. I love my kids. I love Mr. GM. I love reading and I love writing. And those things take up all my time outside of my job–which I also love–so the clean house, the stereotypical mom stuff is just going to have to wait. It’ll happen occasionally, like it did yesterday, but only after the good stuff. Mr. GM really liked the apple pie–so it was worth the effort. 🙂

The Electoral College

The Electoral College bugs me. I understand why it’s there–to prevent the masses from being swayed too easily by say, beer and twinkies if you vote for me. However, it doesn’t really assure a fair election. Witness 2000. Gore won the popular vote, the electoral vote was contested and still, we ended up with Bush as president. It seems to me very likely that the same thing could happen in 2004. For the first time since I’ve been voting in presidential elections, my vote actually counts–because I’m living in a swing state. I voted for Gore in Arkansas even though I knew the state was going for Bush. I know lots of people probably didn’t vote in Arkansas that year because they figured, why bother. Here’s some information on that.

Anyway, I wanted to find out what the deal was with the Electoral College and whether anyone was trying to do anything about it. First, did you know that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is responsible for administering the Electoral College? I didn’t. Hey, I have an M.A. in English, not PoliSci. So there’s plenty of information there about how the Electoral College works and its history, including a list of all the election results.

More interesting to me was the Center for Voting and Democracy which explains how the college works, its pros and cons and possibilities for reform. I’m all for it. After the 2000 election, I remember there was a lot of discussion about reforming the system, promoting primarilty Instant Runoff Voting system explained on the Center for Voting and Democracy’s website. Those discussions never really got anywhere as far as I can tell. Sigh.

Political reading

Once again, let me just point you to Bitch, Ph.D. who has some great links for your political news. I haven’t made it through enough coffee yet to find my own. I’m working on a whole electoral college thing. Keep checking.

Neighborhood Politics

I am the precinct Minority Inspector, not just a poll watcher. I spent last night with the neighborhood democrats, all of whom are in their 50s and 60s. I really felt like I was being handed the torch. I am positively giddy to be so involved in the election process. I get to run off thugs, candidates who try to campaign, decide when to use provisional ballots, and I get to count the votes!! I’m so excited. I’m hoping to become more involved in local politics which sometime affects us more than national ones. I’m still anxious about the national election but I’m feeling good about being more involved.