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Showing posts from March, 2012

The notion of the "green" university

I recently received an email from a reader named Tim who shared an article from his website that he thought I might be interested in reading and sharing. The article is titled " The 10 Greenest Dorms in the World ," and it is interesting and worth reading if you've ever lived in a dorm and wished it was cooler, or if you are curious about what college dorms can be when green building is taken into account. Here at UCSC, we have a few Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings (see the list of UC-wide LEED buildings here ), including the new Porter College Dorms, which are LEED Silver Certified. We have a LEED Gold Certified building on campus, as well, but it's a student health center rather than a housing unit. The campus is working toward more LEED building projects and is even going to offer a training to students and others on LEED certification.  While it's great to have green buildings and to make sure that the operatio

The most beautiful passage about rain I have ever read, by Thomas Merton

"Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By 'they' I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual  is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness. The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer. I came up here from the monastery last night, sloshing through the cornfield, said Vespers, and p

A Roland Barthes-style reading of Facebook

Literature 101 6 March 2012 When a Facebook user signs onto his or her account, they are presented with a screen that is mostly white and blue, scattered with photographs and text that calls out to them to be consumed. Photos of friends appear, and when something new is posted, the first instinct is to click it and absorb the content. There is something so satisfying about reading the latest wall posts and “liking” content to express agreement (which no longer means anything because it also means anger, laughter, acknowledgement, understanding and every other emotion one could categorize under “like”). Any changes to the page draw the eye to the new thing, particularly when a notification appears. The image of a small, light blue globe with a red flag and a white number is irresistible; one cannot simply ignore it. It persists until the user opens it to read about how someone has virtually interacted with them. It gives one a sense of popularity to see that little number, in the sen

The Dichotomy of Twenty-First Century Native American Depictions: Edward S. Curtis’s Altered Piegen Lodge Photograph

In the early twentieth century, American anthropologists and photographers were scrambling to document the “vanishing race” of Native Americans who had endured centuries of struggle against European imperialists and settlers and whose culture was already imbued with the culture of white, European America. Those photographing Native Americans at this time presented idealized, romantic, static images of a people who in reality were experiencing a complex social, political and economic transition. Native American culture at this time was not the same as Native American culture before European contact, but nevertheless, anthropologists attempted to capture the romantic ideal of the “noble savage” and preserve the very culture that society at the same time was attempting to eradicate through assimilation. Thus, Native Americans at this time were not depicted as real, individual beings facing these complex factors, but were depicted as either representative of a culture that was believed to