A big update, eh?

Seems like the blog is due for it. I read a bunch of blogs most days, and yet they’re not up in the column. There’s a spambot going nuts in my comments (though Tobias has kindly suggested one possible solution). Winter break is coming, and this may happen. I just hope I don’t accidentally flush all the old comments or entries or something. Will have to look into backing it up. Or selling out and moving the shop to livejournal or something (don’t worry — through the wonder of frames you won’t notice the difference if I do something drastic like that).

I am happy to report that the article on disciplinarity and digital media is now out the door to the Information Society. My original plan was just to make the revisions the reviewers wanted here and there in a day. Instead, it was a complete rewrite and three days, but that’s just me. It dawned on me that all the stuff I’d cited on disciplinarity was from the 90s (except of course, the French in translation, who wrote earlier). Is the concept pretty much dead? I asked a couple people at a party Friday. Will said yes, he hadn’t seen anything on the topic lately. Nobody else could think of a decent 21st century book or article on the concept. Mine won’t be the first — I’m not being modest, but it’s for one of those special “future of the field” issues, so it’s not like I’m trying to say anything new about disciplinarity.

The end of the semester is such a relief. I’m even cleaning a little. Just don’t remind me about the 500 things I still need to do. Tally for the weekend: two nights of socializing (good, but not excellent like 3 would be; this is partly the effect of a cold), and at least for the first football game this afternoon, I’m going to sit on the couch and watch it. Maybe gaze at the New York Times occasionally. It’s a big game for our fantasy team too. If we win, we control our own destiny for the playoffs. If we lose, it’ll be hard to get in. Current record: 8-4. Here’s to hoping Brad Hoover blocks for Nick Goings and doesn’t steal carries from him.

My friend Greg D. is Awesome

Greg Dimitriadis and I went to grad school together. He’s a confidante, a partner in crime, and a lover of cats. He’s also amazingly prolific AND he’s the first person in our posse to have a book series all his own.

Today, he sent me the following email.

“Check this out—


You should blog about THIS!”

and so I did. Any other suggestions, I mean besides online casinos?

December Already?

One of the many wonderful things about Montreal is that we don’t have to drive much. The car is good for trips to the grocery store, the airport, or other places that public transit is a pain to take. But most of the time, it’s the bus-metro-assemblage that works for me.

This sounds like a wonderful state of affairs and it is, but there is a problem. Parking. When Carrie and I took the place, we had the promise of a parking space behind our place, and anyway we thought the signs said “no parking Monday and Friday 5-6pm” on our side of the street in front of the place (no parking 8-9am on the other). Well, the signs turned out to be Monday THRU Friday and some buttweed moved in across the alley and started calling the police to ticket our car when it’s parked back there. The landlord said, and I quote “we can’t put the space in the lease because it’s not on the property but we’ve never had any problem.” There’s another street nearby where, if you’re lucky, you can score parking (except for Monday and Thursday 5-6) so on a good week we only move our car a couple times. I’ve even managed to coordinate grocery shopping with this state of affairs. But on a bad week we move it twice a day.

So we started looking for garages in the neighborhood. Most are too small for our car (Dodge Intrepid — big, but gas-efficient). The one that’s big enough is full for the winter. It is a nice underground garage. We will try a last-ditch bribe and if that doesn’t work, we’re stuck until a new round of spaces comes up for rent in the spring.

The good news is that between 1 Dec and 1 March we don’t have to move the car on a daily basis. The bad news is that once it snows, there will be new, more arcane rules about plowing.

And no, we’re not selling the car just yet. We own the thing outright. (Plus, legally, you can’t sell a car for a year after you import it into Canada.) And we’re midwesterners.

An icon of the incompetence of the American Left

Tuesday night. I’ve been back in Montreal for less than a full day. I spent my day catching up on email and all that stuff that one catches up on upon returning from a trip. I had planned to attend a protest against Bush at 5:30 at the lovely plaza at the corner of Peel and Rene-Levesque.

But there’s a lot of catching up to do, you see. So I fudge. I’ve been to my fair share of protests, and I know that they always begin with an hour or so of speeches from all the various coalitions involved before you go marching off and waving banners and yelling slogans(1). That’s how it was done in Minneapolis, Chambana, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. So I do a couple more things, since post protest, we’ve got dinner plans and then will go see the very heavy ISIS.(2) I then head down to the Metro and over to the protest. I get to the square at 6:15. It’s dead quiet. A TV truck is packing up. There are no stragglers, no stage or podium left behind. Not even signs dropped here and there. The protesters went off a-marching long enough ago that I can’t even hear them in any direction(3). Wow. I am totally disappointed and I feel stupid. I’d really looked forward to participating in a massive protest against Bush post-election. It seemed like it would mean something.

So much for prior experience. And the stereotype is all wrong. Sure, Canadians (and residents of Quebec, especially) may have a reputation as laid back, but don’t show up to the protest or the rock show late, or you’ll miss out.

So what does one do when one misses a protest? Well, I didn’t really have enough time to go home to do that last hour of work I need to put away before I start meeting with people tomorrow morning. So I went shopping and picked up some new covers for my earphones (yeah, a big $5 expense, but you wouldn’t believe how many places I’ve tried in the last couple weeks before someone actually had them in stock) and now I’m sitting here blogging and feeling slightly like a dumbass. Plus I told a bunch of people I was going to go protest, so now I’ve got to tell this tail-between-my-legs story a few times.


Plan: Work, Protest, Dine, Rock, Blog

Reality: Work too long, go shopping, blog, dine, rock.

It’s not like that’s the difference between radicalism and consumerism, but there’s a pathos to it.

Ah well, next time, I’ll be on time.

In other news, Pittsburgh was wonderful and less weird than you might imagine. While I love my new Montreal friends, it’s also true that you can’t hurry the process of making old friends. So it was a real pleasure to see people and to catch up. I also got a little space to think, which is harder to get than you might imagine. The semester is like one long sprint, and I got enough distance to think about other things, like how to talk about disciplinarity, and with the help of my former colleague Pete Simonson, what changes I should make to my big lecture style for this new course in the winter term (4). I’m not sure that blogging one’s vacations works that well, though Charlie Bertsch has managed it. I’ll try again over winter break.


(1) Actually, I wouldn’t be yelling anything since I’ve lost my voice. Too much fun and/or talking in Pittsburgh, I guess.
(2) You’d think from reading this blog that I’m a headbanger or something. The fact is that I do like to rock, but I also like to groove and a whole lot of other things too. But there is something special about a live rock show. Plus, ISIS is reported to sell their own special earplugs.
(3) Yes, I’d taken the iPod earphones out of my ears by then.
(4) No, I did not type “spring” and then fix it to winter. I’m learning.

The Great Questions of Our Times

Should one blog one’s own vacation? Isn’t that sort of beside the point?

I don’t even know what to report. We’re here having a good time and relaxing. Most of our time has been spent at Carol and Mrak’s place (yes, it’s Mrak, not Mark) with occasional excursions to see other people, which will now increase in frequency over the next couple days. There is a good deal of eating, watching videos, and witty conversation. Doesn’t sound like much, but we’ve been doing it for 11 years now and it’s a family ritual of sorts.

Yesterday, Carrie and I ran errands around Pittsburgh for consumer products we had not yet found in Montreal. It was all silly stuff like a nutritional supplement for one of our cats, bath products (must be a smell issue) and a few spices. Still, there was just a touch of the whole “third world travellers in the US to buy blue jeans” phenomenon.

In football news, apparently people here are perfectly happy to speak of the Steelers (pronounced “Stillers”) going to the Super Bowl. Mrak refers to them as the “Super Bowl Bound Pittsburgh Steelers.” I’m a little surprised since last time they looked this good, they got creamed in the AFC championship game. But perhaps it’s just as good to have the feelings out in the open as to harbor secret hopes. I will say this town is football crazy. It’s sort of like I imagine hockey fandom works in Canada. Then again, how would I know?

In a free moment I found myself rereading parts of Bourdieu’s Homo Academicus, which is a real trip. When I get back to Montreal, I need to finish a short paper on disciplinarity in digital media studies (is it even scholarship when you’re just commenting on the development of the field) for a special journal issue on the subject. Bourdieu doesn’t on the surface have a lot to say about disciplinarity, but he’s very interested in how people control the means of academic reproduction, and that ought to be fun to write about.