Quentin's Weeknotes 11/3/18-11/9/18

This week:

  • I read volume 9 of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' brilliant and poignant graphic novel "Saga". The only question I have is whether we'll see Ponk Konk again...
  • Just in time for election day, I finished political scientist David Faris' new book "It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics". Faris argues that the Republican party has spent the last two and a half decades waging a war of procedure on government--rather than running and governing based on a political philosophy, they have exploited ambiguities in the constitution and law, as well as previous reliance on governmental 'norms' to entrench conservative governance throughout Washington D.C. Faris' prescriptions to combat this are quite bold, and include no-brainer policies like a national holiday on election day, and statehood for the 4 million US citizens who live in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. However, he also advocates for more radical inteventions, including splitting up electoral behemoth California into 7 states, and packing the US Supreme court with additional jurists, as well as retiring existing jurists after a period of service on the court.
  • I voted in NY-19, a tight race where the newcomer Antonio Delgado ultimately prevailed. I also drove a van from Hartwick to take students to the polls, and helped the Otsego County Democratic Party with last minute Get-out-the-vote efforts.

Quentin's Weeknotes 10/27/18-11/2/18

This week:


Quentin's Weeknotes 10/20/18-10/26/18

This week:

  • I read Andrew Bacevich's Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren. Bacevich is a former professor at my alma mater, Boston University, and a scholar and thinker whose deep humanism and broad historical perspective on American foreign policy I find genuinely fascinating and engaging whenever I read it. His basic argument in the letter is that a progressive domestic policy needs to be matched by a difficult but necessary conversation about the limits of American intervenionist foreign policy. He says that any president must engage with the reality of climate change and its geopolitical consequences, the redistribution of global power from the America and Europe to other places (largely China), and the growing threat of State and non-State cyber warfare.
  • I read the socialist historian Mike Davis' interview in Jacobin, where he addresses some of the specific population issues he laid out in his book Late Victorian Holocausts (which I must confess that I own, but have yet to read). In this interview, Davis argues that the deaths resulting from the coercive pull of profit-making, imperialism, and modernity rival or even exceed the routinely (and rightly) discussed atrocities of socialist and communist states in the 20th century. These morbid numbers games are useful only rhetorically, but are worth remembering, particularly as we stare down a climate catastrophe, caused by untrammeled capitalist growth and already causing extreme suffering.
  • As part of my on-going masochistic exercise of reading all of Jeff and Ann Vandermeer's edited tome "The Weird", I read the cult-novella "The Other Side of the Mountain" by Michael Bernanos, printed in its entirety therein.  It's a strange and wonderful story of an unnamed young boy who joins up with a sailing ship, whose journey starts with tragedy and horror, and ends on an island with something much more bizarre and wondrous. I don't want to spoil it, but it's a wonderful piece of eco-fiction, where the characters are encreasingly enveloped by an alien landscape that seems to exist outside of anyone's ability to comprehend, and may be either indifferent or malevolent to their presence.
  • The Yager Museum held it's annual storytelling even "The Horror in the Museum." Every year, students, faculty, and staff read or perform their favorite pieces of spooky fiction and drama, and its always a blast. This year we had fantastic readings of Poe, Lovecraft, Stephen King, folktales, and original works by students and staff. I coordinate this event and it's one of my favorite things in the year. Fun fact: the event is named for a story that Lovecraft ghost-wrote/revised for Somerville, MA native Hazel Heald.

Quentin's Weeknotes 10/13/18-10/19/18

This Week

  • I became somewhat obsessed with this moody, swirling piece of dark British neo-soul music. Digital Kids by Vicktor Taiwo (Feat. Solomon). I first heard it on the Netflix show Dear White People, which my wife and I have been binge-ing when we have any spare time for such things.
  • The students in MUST250: Collectors and Collecting (the course I'm team-teaching this semester at Hartwick) started their last project, a Collection Analysis assignment. This is a project where they have to describe a collection of objects, usually by interviewing the collector, and analyze it for its social and symbolic role. We've cribbed and modified our version of this assignment from the one used by Professor Paul Mullins, who teaches it in his Modern Material Culture class at IUPUI.
  • My parents came to visit. They live in Iowa (where they run a great antique shop in the heart of the Czech heritage area) and drove out to visit us. It's been great having them here, and I wish they could stay longer, or be closer.

Halloween Songs

In which I list, in no particular order, my current five favorite songs for Halloween.

I've been making Halloween playlists since I was about 19. Part of what I like about it is that so much of popular music dovetails with, but only obliquely addresses the subjects associated with Halloween--fear, mortality, sartorial experimentation, and (at least in the US iteration of Halloween) consumerism. So finding songs that capture something is usually somewhat more of a narrow hunt than searching for songs about, say, Christmas.

What follows is stuff I've been listening to this Halloween. Some of the songs are old songs, some are new, and some are just new to me. As you can probably tell, I have a mood that I like to keep--I'm not a "Monster Mash" kind of guy.


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