Monthly Archives: September 2012


cc license image “untitled” by flickr user Dana Moos

Hello Commons,

Last week I was plenty ticked about those subway ads that went up around the city.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one.  The Awl started a little gallery of “modified” posters while sometimes CNN correspondent Mona Eltahawy took matters into her own hands.  The MTA has since decided to review their process for ad approval and the whole thing will probably wind up back in court again.  I know, I know – we’re all CUNY folks so we’re super-smart and this issue is really thorny because there’s the larger questions about freedom of speech looming behind the very immediate and visceral “hey, being racist is actually pretty awful” sentiment that’s guiding a lot of immediate reactions.  The sound thing to do is (was?) to follow the rule of the internet and not feed the trolls but sometimes you really just want slap big stickers up over offensive posters.

Before I get on with the rest of the round up for this week I’d like to point you over to the GC’s Center for Place Culture and Politics site.  A couple of days ago it was announced that the the much-beloved Neil Smith passed away.  There’s been a really beautiful outpouring of condolences and memories on two tribute pages and another has gone up with some wonderful videos.  By all accounts he was a marvelous educator and friend to many.

Roman Kossak had a great post up on teaching his “Math for Poets.”  When I took a similar course as an undergrad it was called “Math for Lovers.” Roman talks about the ups and downs of teaching  and speaks candidly about what went wrong in the classroom.  It may be  a little cliche but I think a good rule of thumb in education is that you always learn more from what doesn’t work.  Sharing those moments is really insightful so thank you!

A new blog showed up this week.  A.W. Strouse arrived sharing poetry and telling us more disappointing things about Ed Koch.  Strouse has hit the ground running with a flurry of great post and I’m excited to see what’s next.  Since we’re talking about Ed Koch I’ll share this little bit of New York apocrypha:  As it turned out, Ed Koch wound up moving into the same building as author and ACT-UP founder Larry Kramer.  It was holy hell in the building until the co-op board managed to broker some kind of treaty between the two.  One day, after months of peace, the elevator door opens and Larry Kramer’s dog bolts out and races over to none-other-than Ed Koch.  Larry snatches up the pooch and tells the poor creature (the dog that is), “Don’t go near him, that’s the man that killed all of daddy’s friends.”  Ah, New York.

Finally this week, Jessica Yood sent us a dispatch from sabbatical.  I was worried that the start of the school year would mean we wouldn’t get quite so many Associations posts.  Instead we got more stellar writing on life in, and as, September.  Glad to see you again!

Till next week.


Round Up!


It’s going to be all over the news this week so we might as well get it out of the way here.  On your commute this morning you might have caught one of these fantastically tasteless ads on the subway.  If you’ve missed the dust-up leading to them it starts with Pamela Gellar.  You might vaguely remember her from the embarrassing protests a couple of years ago when  some fellow New Yorkers wanted to build a cultural center downtown.   A self-appointed vigilante in the name of all those “soon-to-be-oppressed” by Islam, Mrs. Gellar sued the MTA to get ads posted on the trains that compare Muslims to savages.   We at CUNY know that CUNY and the city are richer for the great diversity of our students, faculty and staff and especially the contributions of our Muslim community members who help make New York City the capital of the world.  Every time I see one of these ads I hope there’s a CUNY ad right next to it because that’s the choice we have to make in life:

Learn, grow, and be free or let your own ignorance terrify you into a thousand hysterical deaths.

Meanwhile on the Commons there was plenty to discuss already.  Tony Picciano has been keeping us up to speed with the Queensborough Community College English Department and their recent actions regarding Pathways.  I’m sure many of you have been following this from a variety of perspectives.  It’s been interesting to read the papers’ take on events and then moments later get emails from PSC and various other groups.   It will be very interesting to see where this goes for everyone as it will doubtlessly inform the tenor of this policy and its trajectory.

For the last few weeks George Otte has been blogging about MOOCs and what they mean for the future of education and technology.  This week some new voices have jumped into the conversation here on the Commons.  Bruce Rosenbloom talked a little about how institutions are thinking about MOOCs while Tony Picciano shared some news about MOOCs big leap.  Love it or hate it MOOCs have arrived and we’re going to have to figure out what they mean for educators and the academy.

Finally this week — CUNYMath veered into the epistemological.  Broni Czarnocha had a great post on “knowing.”  It’s just another in a string of stellar posts from the Math Group.  If you enjoyed it keep an eye out for a rumored philosophy blog in the works.

Till next week.

Round Up!

Things are back in full swing on the Commons.  The last few weeks alone have brought a couple hundred (!) new faces to the site — Hello!

The 11th anniversary of 9/11 passed this week.  Adam Wandt snapped a beautiful photo of the “Towers of Light” tribute down at Ground Zero and shared his thoughts on what we remember each year.  I still think the light installations this time each year are a really poignant tribute and I hope they continue after the new towers are finished.  Unfortunately the week was marred by violence around the globe; starting in Libya and wrapping up in China.  There isn’t much I have to offer on either front.  Both protests in Libya and China, though clearly different, are each rooted in historical context so thick that trying to talk about them in this often silly and tertiary space wouldn’t help at all.  I will offer, in all earnestness, the thought that everyone in this community should remember that your work is both the salve and the antidote.

Elsewhere in the news Tony Picciano shared with us the latest from Chicago.  As many of you know Chicago’s teachers are on strike this week to protest pay cuts and changes to benefits.  There was much speculation as to whether the strike would happen at all and now, a week in, it looks as though Chicago will go a second week with no class.  Here’s hoping CTU is able to strike a deal soon.

Two tech pieces showed up in the blogs this week.  Will Fenton spent some time reviewing GoodReader for the iPad while Aaron Knoll talks to us about choice and technology.  Both posts are great reads and point to a trend on the Commons of folks sharing reviews and advice with the community and the world at large.  Maybe it’s time for a tech column on the Commons?

Finally this week we had something of a surprise on the Commons.  CUNY’s own Chancellor Matthew Goldstein wrote an engrossing post on the Ubiquitous Normal Law.  From there a discussion kicked up and the math crew tossed around examples and limits.  It was a little beyond me, as most math is (Sorry Chancellor and CUNYMath folks!) but it was a pleasure to see the Chancellor drop by the Commons.

Till next week!

Round Up!

A tornado! In Brooklyn! Again!

I grew up in Texas where we have “tornado season” which is actually about as terrifying as it sounds.  There’s a whole swath of the year in which it is totally possible, likely even, that a giant funnel is going to come down from the sky and rock ‘n roll.  The “training” you get for this is pretty simple: If you can, get in a bathtub and put your mattress over it, if that’s not possible sit down in a door frame, and if that’s not possible sit under your desk.  Because nothing is more awesome then sitting under your desk while your 4th grade teacher is both crying and singing.  Sorry, was that a little dark for Footenotes?  In any event — I feel totally prepared for the New New York.

Speaking of rock ‘n rolling —  Bill Clinton brought the house down in North Carolina this week.  Tony Picciano weighed in and was impressed from the sounds of it.  Hell, it really was a barn burner.  Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, you’ve got to admit that nobody holds court like Bill.  The guy’s a total peacock.  Even if you tried to ignore what he was saying he still gets you with his magisterial use of hand gestures.

Speaking of presence, the start of the new year has brought in a crop of fresh bloggers.  New blog ‘In Between’ chimed in this week with some thoughts on positioning.  I love it when CUNY gets meta and it’s interesting to think along with a new PhD candidate getting their feet wet at CUNY.  It’ll be great to check in with this blog over years and see how much changes.  Thanks for making a home here on the Commons!

Not to eavesdrop but the Digital Fellows blog posted some awesome tips for doing a WordPress install locally with your Mac using MAMP.  I know there are a ton of Mac users on the Commons and this post is an invaluable resource.  Thanks so much new Digital Fellows!

Finally this week there are a couple of big events coming up at CUNY that you should mark your calenders for.  First up is Open Access Week here at CUNY.  If you’re new to CUNY or new to the Commons then you should know we’re big Open Access supporters here and we have a ton of resources for you to study up in the issues and get involved.

Also coming up is the 11th annual CUNY IT Conference.  If you haven’t made it to one of the IT conferences you really should try to catch it this year.  I know, I know — it sounds like a lot of dudes running around in cargo pants being chased by sales reps from Microsoft.  It is not like that at all.  It’s actually a lot of really creative folks at CUNY showing off some fantastic work they’re doing across the university.  Come say hello!

Till next week!


Labor Day Round Up!

The last big hurrah of the summer and I’m wrapped up in a sheet with a cold.  It’s pathetic.  I was thinking Fire Island and instead wound up pacing around my apartment like a wraith, trying to figure out if the mystery pills in the cabinet were Tylenol or sleeping pills.  I took both of them.  This may become the incoherent Round Up.  (Because that would be a real break in style.) 

The week opened with Clint Eastwood talking to furniture.  I think I’ve said all I can there.

Actually, no.  There’s one  little morsel of news there that I would never forgive myself for if I didn’t mention it: The premiere of TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” had better ratings than the Republican National Convention.

Ok, moving on…

Schools back in.  Already the Commons has started to see some new life.  A ton of new faces and new blogs have popped up on the site.  For starters a Feminist Studies group has landed and looks set to make a big impact at the GC.  I’m looking forward to their programming this year.

The CUNY Math blog always has stellar writing on it, but this week was a knock out.  Frank Wang took on the question of ‘Why are so many Harvard student’s first born’ and basically beat it around the head with some serious math.  Later in the week Roman Kossak posted a insightful piece about the need for better communication between math faculty and asked the community to make the Commons their place.  I hope to see more discussions grow from this insightful piece.

I suuuuck at Twitter.  I’m terrible at it.  I go on there and see Boone and Luke and all of the cool kids making witty RT’s and ### and I can’t for the life of me figure it out.  Fortunately The CUNY Games network posted a great ’50 Best Twitter Feeds for Educational Gaming’ so if you’re like me and still dipping your toes in the Twitter waters this is a great place to start.  Thanks so much for posting!

Adam Wandt posted a photo of the Imagine mosaic in Central park this week.  If you’re new to the Commons one of the things you’ll notice is that we share photos in a lot of places here.  Feel free to post your own.  Adam also reached out to the community to try and start a discussion about what it means to be an American.  I’d really love to see how the Commons responds to questions of identity and citizenship.

I’ll end the week on a high note.  The Common’s own Raymond Hoh has been promoted to the BuddyPress core team.  Congrats Raymond!

Til next week.

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