MLA Language Map

Certain to send shudders down the spines of linguistic xenophobes everywhere, the new MLA Language Map is a cool tool for graphically presenting the languages spoken at home by people in the US, broken down by state, county, and zip code. Data cover about three hundred languages and can be displayed as raw numbers or as a percentage of the population.

Blogs as a Political Tool? No Way!!!

Rob Enderle of TechNewsWorld appends some political ruminations to a technophiliac piece about new toys from HP, describing a method for political manipulation of the blogosphere during the next presidential election campaign. Media manipulation is old news, of course -- the methods just get a little more high-tech and a little more cynical over time -- but Enderle's description is especially worth reading for those who might be interested in jamming such an approach.



There's a great post by Mark Morton of the U of Waterloo (Ontario) in the Educause blogspace that skewers vapid student ratings of professors (I was chuckling through half of it) -- and at the same time offers some great advice for co-opting those inane perceptions and turning them into "teachable moments". Given the absymal state of information literacy in this country today (vide recent elections, etc.), we need more ideas for ways to counter the insipid "education as product/service" attitude so prevalent in our millenial students. Thank you, Mark!

PS: Don't miss the slideshow linked from the blog post!


We're much too wonderful to be guilty of error, aren't we?

Me ranting in response to an article and commentary about "Dr. Doom" in Inside Higher Ed:

"ClioSmith's implication that all human institutions are as natural as elk-matings (and therefore, presumably benign and wholesome) is specious. Behaviors (including aspects of human culture) and physiological characteristics may indeed be the product of evolution -- but the conditions under which they evolved may no longer exist, rendering what was once a successful adaptation a suicidal proclivity. That is, in fact, what some have argued more eloquently than I can about certain aspects of modern humanity, especially the Ponzi scheme of growth-requiring economic systems, overdependence on positivistic science, etc. Some of these behaviors might have been advantageous when there weren't quite so many of us. They aren't any longer. So will we use our vaunted intellects to adapt, or will we let the hammer and anvil of natural selection do the job?

"What IS it with the crowd who can't tolerate the notion that humans and their institutions might be flawed? Especially when they are often the same ilk who cleave to the doctrine of original sin? Must our self-depictions be ever-optimistic? Can we not stand a modicum of humility, or must any criticism be met with accusations of misanthropy and self-loathing?

"And about stewardship of creation? Even if you don't give a rat's ass (vulgar pun intended) about the rest of the life on this planet, attending to our behavior's impact on the environment is surely worthwhile from a position of self-interest. If nature tanks, we go along for the ride."