Food Insofar As They Give You Food

A tiny note on first class air travel

I fly a bajillion miles a year and as such I have access to the first class cabin on almost every flight, which makes me a lucky bastard as much as a privileged one. I thought I’d share, from a plane of course, just one humbling notes on modern first class travel just to assure the purported-rabble that things up… read more

Map

Academic Paydom

Tactical lessons from the Steven Salaita situation

For those of you who don’t follow university labor politics, Inside Higher Ed reported this week that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign apparently rescinded a job offer for a tenured professorship in Native American Studies to Steven G. Salaita, a Virginia Tech English professor. Well, not exactly rescinded. Rather, the UIUC chancellor decided not to advance Salaita’s appointment through a usually pro-forma approval process.… read more

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Welcome to Dataland

Design fiction at the most magical place on Earth

I am in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and I am standing in line. My family is awaiting entrance to Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast-themed quick-service restaurant nestled into the recently-revamped Fantasyland. It’s late spring in central Florida, and it’s hot. A Disney “cast member” wheels out a cart with drinking water and disposable cups, and each family… read more

“Science”

Response to the 2014 Edge Question: What Scientific Idea is ready for retirement?

“No topic is left unexplored,” reads the jacket blurb of The Science of Orgasm, a 2006 book by an endocrinologist, a neuroscientist, and a “sexologist.” A list of topics covered includes the genital-brain connection and how the brain produces orgasms. The result, promises the jacket blurb, “illuminates the hows, whats, and wherefores of orgasm.” Its virtues or faults notwithstanding, The… read more

Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, Chiles, &c.

A Mexican Food Index to Alien Phenomenology

Here’s a complete list of all mentions of Mexican food in my book Alien Phenomenology, or What it’s Like To Be A Thing: They cover plates of enchiladas as shrubs cover the hundreds of square miles of their high desert home. (3) Tumbling in vented steel cylinders, chiles crackle over the open flame of roasting. (3) Reality is reaffirmed, and… read more

The McRib: Enjoy Your Symptom

How McDonald's strange, seasonal sandwich explains the rest of its menu

Each year, the McRib makes a brief visit to Earth. Its arrival elicits reactions ranging from horror to awe. And for good reason: this would-be rib sandwich is really a restructured pork patty pressed into the rough shape of a slab of ribs, its slathering of barbecue sauce acting as camouflage as much as coating. “Pork” is a generous term,… read more

Perpetual Adolescence

Gone Home: a videogame about releasing secrets

Originally published at the Los Angeles Review of Books Gone Home is a videogame about releasing secrets, the kind of secrets that you should have known all along. It is set in Oregon circa 1995, and it tells the story of an ordinary family. As the game starts, you find yourself on the porch of an old house. You are… read more

MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities (Part Two)

A roundtable at the LA Review of Books

On June 14-15, 2013, the LA Review of Books hosted a two-part roundtable on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). Participants included me, Cathy N. Davidson, Al Filreis, and Ray Schroeder. Below is my contribution to part two, which included responses to the statements in part one (which you can find here; this response won’t make much sense unless you read… read more

Two Reviews of Alien Phenomenology

By Sandy Alexandre and Cameron Kunzelman

For those of you interested in such things, here are two interesting and (to me) very gratifying reviews of Alien Phenomenology. First, a review in Invisible Culture by Sandy Alexandre, which considers (among other things), how literary practice relates to carpentry. I’ll let you read to her conclusion on that front, but spoil the surprise by saying that I agree… read more

What is a Game Bundle?

From my Persuasive Games column at Gamasutra

From Humble Bundle to Steam Sales, from Indie Royale to Indie Gala, it seems like you can’t go online anymore without seeing a new “game bundle” offering — a set of unusual, overlooked, and independent game titles offered at a substantial discount for a limited time, often with a portion of proceeds donated to charities like the Red Cross or… read more