Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Student Polling info

First, I'm happy about this piece for its content. I'm glad that students don't like Palin. I'm not sure that it is all that significant considering how few students there are and who vote but it is still encouraging.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I'm envious of the US. I deplore the electoral cycle and the money that it consumes here in the US. I like the Canadian electoral cycle, its brevity and its relative cost. What I do miss is regular polling information about particular demographics. Specifically, how do young people feel about politics. I've done some cursory searches but I can't find equivalent data for Canada as I can for the US. I'm sure this is a factor of the very things I deplore. The US has more time and more money to study these things. Not worth the trade off but I think it would still be worth it for Canadians to have a greater sense of how young people are or are not engaged politically.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Three Bands

I play a little "what if" game with young people all the time. It helps me get to know them. It goes like this. God will intervene in the world in such a way as to eliminate three bands/artists. That is not saying God will kill them or something but will nudge them along in a different direction so that they never make it. What are your three bands/artists.

Usually mine are:

1. Rush
2. Aerosmith
3. Celine Dion.

Imagine how upset I was at this little piece about how Guitar Hero is resurrecting the careers of Aerosmith and Rush! How could folks possibly think this was a good idea? Boston, yes. The Who, yes. Rush? Aerosmith?

I am fascinated however by this resurgence of "classic" rock (classic in quotes as I don't consider Aerosmith, out side of their collaboration with Run DMC, classic) tied to a video game. The money - "Last year, Guitar Hero and its rival, Rock Band, racked up $935 million in sales. That's $100 million more than all digital music sales." What is it to consume music through video in a participatory fashion? I grew up in the MTV age so video and music were closely aligned but without the participatory. Should it shock us that these games are so popular when we consider that when MTV made a nod to direct participation with TRL its ratings went up?

Should it also surprise us to learn that Activision, the producer of Guitar Hero, is a Vivendi company and therefore a sister company of Universal Music Group (proud producers of The Who)? Aerosmith (Sony) goes out of its way in promoting its connections to Guitar Hero with this handy link on their official website. I'm surprised that it wasn't NBC that put the story up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Free book

Not sure of the quality but it is worth the minute it will take for you to download a free book in .pdf. Thanks to Tim for finding this.

James Fallows on election

As some of you know, I read the Atlantic monthly cover-to-cover. I have since 1995. James Fallows is one of my invisible friends who I trust and has been for a long time now. His comments on Palin reflect my own opinion. Palin is unprepared. Leave aside the fact that she has not demonstrated the capacity to prepare, at the moment, she could not assume the duties of VP or POTUS with any degree of knowledge or competence. That, for me, is enough reason to vote for someone else.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Framing the Election

In part as an effort to move away from my opinions about the current US election and moving the discussion towards a more neutral ground that includes some of my interests such as media literacy and young people, I offer the following link. Henry Jenkins provides a sustained analysis of the two presidential candidates bio videos. (By sustained I mean too long but it is worth touching down in a bunch of places). He uses George Lakoff's theory of how the two nt parties "frame" their presentation in such a way as to appeal to two different types of people. What I like about this piece is that Jenkins is using it specifically to talk to young people about how the media shapes our vision of the world.

I think that we often confuse being technologically savvy with being media savvy. There are always young people who are skeptical about the media that they consume but there are a larger number who are not as critical as they should be. Take for instance, Jenkins comment that his students typically view these bios as objective history and do not inquire into who and why they were produced. I look forward to the next installment which deals with the Vice Presidential candidates.

Clustering online

As I work through some research methodologies I came across the idea of "clustering" as a quick way of getting the writing juices working. Reminded me of a little online tool I've used a couple of times that mindmaps.

Links to references

In my response to burnlikestars below I referenced two items. First was an article about the dangers of talking points in a campaign. My friend John pointed me to this article earlier this morning.

Second, was the Sarah Palin interview where she did not understand the significance of the Bush Doctrine. Here it is:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cutting Slack

A.K.M. Adam is correct, in my opinion, that the media can go overboard in crucifying candidates during an election. So it is clear - I could support either Obama or McCain but Palin makes the McCain ticket unpalatable to me. I'm not out to find the dirt, simply to say that she would make a horrible president.

My friend John has an interesting post about voting (since Canada is also having an election). Clearly our systems differ but there are enough similarities. Party platforms will form the core of any particular candidates stump speech and stock answers. These are immutable. What does give some room for original answers though are the intangible character traits that emerge during someone's governing. That is, the particular decision is not as important as the process of the decision.

I don't trust Palin to make the right decision regardless of her party's platform.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Election Mania

The first time we arrived in Princeton I stayed up all night watching George W. sort of getting elected. Very anticlimactic, even depressing, first hand experience of American politics.

Now we are here for either the first black president or first female vice president. I'm happy about that. Actually, when we were coming I figured we couldn't really lose. Obama or McCain, either one as a person is significantly better than GW.

Now however, there is no contest. I don't get to vote, but I'm actively campaigning against Palin. I'm somewhat obsessed these days with the Huffington Post because Palin does so many asinine things. Other folks I know have been getting in on this. Tony Jones has been seriously trying to shape Obama's campaign as you can see. Travis Allison, a Canadian photographer, has been more passively trawling for humourous campaign material such as this.

Either way, please, America, don't vote McCain/Palin or, if you watch her speak Palin/McCain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wildlife in Princeton

Our friends Jason, Shannon and Judah have a blog that chronicles a lot of the wildlife here in Princeton. Check out this entry. Garrett and I are the "caterpillar caretakers." Seriously, this sucker was huge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Long Time Silent Update

Life has changed in the past four weeks. I've ended my pastorate at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (a bunch of great people who were really good to me and my family), moved back to Princeton, NJ and started my doctorate in Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. Its been a crazy month, filled with many hours of packing, unpacking, purging and restocking. I'm still processing saying good-bye while saying hello to a new community.

The blog will start up again tomorrow with regular updates. Thanks for the patience.