Monday, January 31, 2011

Freedom Riders Documentary Odessa Premiere (Self Indulgence Alert)

UTPB will be hosting a West Texas premiere for Freedom Riders on Thursday, February 10 at 7:00 pm. The Odessa American had a nice little feature on the documentary and my role in it as did the Midland Reporter Telegram (though for the record both my wife and I are associate professors) for an event at Midland College on February 5.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Your Reading Pleasure

This, kids, is known as an evisceration.

[Hat tip.]

Bruscino Bait: Mafia Edition

At TNR Bradford Plumer explains why the mafia never gained a foothold in Washington, DC. Basically his answer comes down to ethnicity: Washington never had the population of Italian-Americans that other cities had and so there was no critical mass for a mafia presence in Washington.

Read the piece to see his answer. I'm a bit surprised that he does not consider one important factor: The mafia has always been only somewhat powerful, though that;s small solace to its victims. Nonetheless, even the Corleaones knew that there was only so far that they could push. You could own a single Senator in Nevada -- and then only under fairly extreme circumstances -- but almost certainly not in Washington, where the power dynamic changes considerably. It is not a particularly effective marshaling of resources to try to play a power game in Washington when New York and Providence and Philly and Boston are so much more wide-open to you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Daulerio in GQ

I love Deadspin. But AJ Daulerio doesn't seem like the most likable fellow. I do love that he has co-opted Buzz Bissinger, however.

Ephron Ain't Shakespeare

This quite excellent Leon Wieseltier critical essay can be reduced to a simple maxim: If you are disposable middlebrow pop culture pap don't compare your work to that of the greats.

It's one thing to aspire to greatness and to stand on the shoulders of giants. It's another thing to imply that your work is akin to those giants.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Open Letter

An open letter to the Odessa American Subscription Manager, but really to all of you who solicit business over the phone --

I recently received a call (in my office, while at work) asking me about (re-) subscribing to the OA. I was happy to do so and we went through the process with one of your sales representatives of getting me back on board.

It is, to be honest, unnecessary for me to subscribe -- I get the paper on campus for free four days a week and if I want it on the weekend, assuming I am in town, I can just buy it. Your subscription rate is too expensive and the paper can pile up if I am away for a few days or if I don't have the time to flip through it. But I like the idea of supporting the actual print newspaper and subscribing to the local paper, even if I already read it, further ties me to the local community.

In any case, when your sales rep -- who was competent and efficient, if a bit tied to her script -- passed me over to you I thought we were ready to finalize the process. Then you started trying to get me to pay right there and then. I get that. I do. But here is the deal -- I'm not going to give you my credit card information over the phone. I have not yet received a newspaper for one thing. But for another, too often these days you pass along your credit card information, and lo and behold, automatic renewal happens at a rate far higher than that of the extra-special bonus rate that hooked me to begin with. I think it's called a bait and switch, though I might be mixing my metaphors for tawdry business behavior.

So once I thought we were clear on how payment was going to work, you decided to chime in with "you know, sir, when the paper does come you do have to pay for it." That's when I responded, not unreasonably I'd argue, with "You know what? Fuck you. Cancel this transaction. I won't be disrespected like that."

You see, you need my business more than I need you. Oh, that's not always the case. My credit card company has me over a barrel. As do my electric and cable companies, albeit for different reasons. But you? A representative of that dodo bird of the 21st century, the local newspaper? You're expendable. At least to me you are. And apparently to most people all across the country. And the funny thing is in class not an hour before our little chat I actually encouraged my students to read the paper and gave them examples of two recent articles from the OA that are germane to our class topic. I guess I won't make that mistake again.

No, my response stands. Fuck you. Fuck you for daring to question my integrity. Fuck you for not understanding when "please send me a bill" means "I'm not giving you my credit card number." And, really, fuck you for not understanding the way this particular transaction works. Oh, I'll continue to snag copies for free on campus. But you've pretty much guaranteed that free is the only way this relationship works from here on out. And take a minute and ask yourself just how many people like me you can afford to alienate.

So, yeah. Fuck you.

Sincerely --
More Customers Than You Think


Many of you have asked about being able to see the YouTube of the UTPB Pardon the Interruption from my fall semester Sports History class. Here it is, in three parts. They did a great job, especially given the technological constraints and that we do not have any sort of broadcast journalism major (and it came out even better on dvd -- there are many sacrifices the student who posted this had to make for it to be YouTube-able). My Global Sports class this semester now has a high standard to reach.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

States I've Visited

States I've visited.

Not too bad. By visited I pretty much mean "Have spent enough time in to be able to tell you some sort of story and spent at least one night" and not just "was there once for a layover," with the exception of Oklahoma, which I drove through once with Tootle. Driving the length of Oklahoma seems worthy of an exemption.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Choice Review

Tom's book, A Nation Forged in War, has received Choice's highest recommendation and deservedly so. Go buy it.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I'm back from the epic New England trip, which included much merriment with friends in Boston, some time seeing my dad and other friends in New Hampshire, and a fruitful and productive AHA meeting. The new semester starts tomorrow and with it, I hope, regular posting.