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Greetings, faithful Myles Files readers who have received almost zero examples of real content for like the past six months. When this blog started last summer, it seemed like the right time: Cultural Learnings was coming into its own, I was really starting to dig into my thesis projects, and there was some upcoming Acadia news that seemed ripe for the blogging.

Of course, those final two projects veered off into rather time-consuming directions, with my thesis turning into a time-consuming monster and the faculty strike becoming a rather phenomenal blogging experience. The result of all of this, however, was that The Myles Files didn’t really serve any sort of particular purpose: my life was never interesting enough to maintain a steady flow of content, a majority of my entertainment viewing was television and handled by the other blog, and any thoughts I had about various Acadia goings-on have largely been relegated to the sidelines in favour of finishing this bloody degree.

But now the degree is over – the final thesis edit is complete, and by and large it appears that I have a fairly loose summer ahead of me. I have no full-time employment, plenty of movies to watch, and a number of exciting and bloggable projects in the works. So, clearly, the Myles Files is back in action, right?

Maybe. Or, well, maybe not.

You see, my summer includes the potential for (Brace yourself) two new blog projects, multiple facebook groups, and Masters’ Research Work. While I am still expecting that I will have a fair amount of free time compared to previous summers, a lot of that free time will go towards various new media outlets wherein I will be discussing those subjects elsewhere.

However, part of the summer may well necessitate blogging, as I might actually be forced into trying new things (And this is always entertaining as far as I am concerned). I will admit to having SOADD (Sudden Onset Attention Deficit Disorder) merely 24 hours after finishing off the undergrad – I can’t maintain one activity for too long, whether it is watching a television show, a movie, or even playing a video game. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve lost interest in these things, but rather that I am branching out in search of entertainment and self-fulfillment.

Where that road will take me I am not quite sure – I’m actively pondering a particular month-long project in May, and have a goal that I will have developed some form of podcast about some sort of subject by the time the summer is over. I’ve spent the last three summers doing the same thing over and over again, so it should be interesting to see a summer where personal discovery is par for the course (Oooh, that reminds me – I also want to golf more).

So, while I’ll be pulled into a variety of different directions, I do plan on sticking around the Myles Files – whether it’s to describe these other ventures or to vent about this that or another, this blog shall live on. However, as always, for more consistent updates, Cultural Learnings gets first priority.

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In working on this creative project, it was an issue of inspiration: in reading through hundreds of sources, what jumped out at us as the stories to tell, as the perspectives to take? Ultimately, the form it took was the same as the form of this posting: blogs.

Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to using a blog format for an online project.

The Advantages

  • Ability to ask “What if” questions about modern communication in non-modern settings
  • Easy to create, easy to manage
  • Myles is addicted to them (Also a disadvantage!)

The major disadvantage, however, is more apparent – they read backwards, so for people looking to read the whole story they need to scroll down the page and read in a strange fashion.

However, this is really an advantage: it reminds us that history doesn’t always start at the beginning, and that you have to search for those starting points in our look back into the past. We feel as if we have found some of these starting points, and are proud to be presenting these blogs as our final Class Project.

Notes for Reading “Blogging the Plague”

  • You will notice comments on a number of the blogs – these are part of the story, and help emphasize the benefit of communication and the importance of dialogue. They also allowed us to contribute to one another’s projects, and to create a connection (however coincidental and convenient) between our separate works.
  • Each blog has a “Sources” page which features references to documents, both primary and secondary, which inspired or informed our postings.
  • As noted, blogs are read backwards – each blog fits onto one page, so a simple “End” will do the trick.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Myles A. McNutt, B. Alexander Fage, Amandine Clairo, Jennifer Huizen

About “Blogging the Plague”

“Blogging the Plague” is a project designed to ask a series of “What if?” questions about the outbreak of plague in the United States of America, specifically in Honolulu and San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century.

What if the stories of the people close to the plague, be it victims or medical professionals, made it to public at large through mass media sources?

What if the reasons and explanations behind the decisions of J. Kinyoun had been made public, allowing the public to view what was behind his public image as the “Wolf Doctor?”

What if there had been a news source that cut through the pacts of silence to reach a broad worldwide readership, spreading the plague stories worldwide?

If all of these, or one of these, would have happened, how would this have changed the question of how plague spread? Would the government have felt more accountable, providing more resources to Kinyoun and others? Would the residents of these cities accept the treatment, and their efforts, considering this new scenario: or would such a free flow of information have organized them against it more quickly?

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I’ll be heading back tomorrow for a more detailed go-round with the various vendors, but today I stopped into the Acadia Laptop Showcase at the Fountain Commons in order to get a glimpse at what the various vendors have to offer. I’m not going to offer my own opinion in full detail (That’ll be for the Ath, it seems), but I will say this much: thanks to everyone who came out. The future of the Acadia Advantage is important to this university, and a student voice is integral. Too often I think students are left out of this process, so this is a great opportunity to test and see if these computers meet your needs.

Personally, I’ll disclose that if I return to Acadia next year I will be buying an Apple laptop – this was going to be the case before they were one of the potential vendors, and nothing I saw today really changed that fact. I heard a few rumblings here and there about the representative being a bit prickly, but in the end a fair number of students were gravitating towards the shiny boxes.

But let me pose a few questions about each model, in an attempt to gather some information and stir up some discussion.

Apple:

  • What knowledge did you gain regarding operating a Windows environment through Boot Camp?
  • How much are you willing to spend for a MacBook?
  • Did you leave the table with a sense of the difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro? And compared to PCs?

HP:

  • Were you as put off as I was by the lack of pricing/specifications on the models?
  • Did you think the tablet PC was cool, or just a distraction from the rest of their presentation?
  • Is a Biometric thumb scanner SERIOUSLY a selling point for anyone?

Toshiba:

  • How concerned were you about the specifications on the Toshiba laptops?
  • Is size an issue for you? (I don’t think Toshiba had a laptop under 15.4″)
  • Do you feel that these models were designed for student use?

Dell:

  • Are you willing to pay $1500 for an upgraded version of the current Acadia laptop?
  • Are you interested in a high-end gaming rig, or was that not of any interest?
  • Do you feel wary about Dell in general based on the performance of the existing laptops?

If you want to take some time to answer any of these questions, or offer your own comments, feel free to post below! And if you haven’t yet visited the Laptop Showcase, it is on tomorrow (Wednesday) from 10am to 7pm.

The earlier than expected departure of Gail Dinter-Gottlieb, president of Acadia University, was met with a variety of different reactions. Many of these, expectedly, reflect back on her tenure of president with a certain skepticism, and view her removal as vindication for their past criticism of her efforts. Others, meanwhile, view this as yet another sign that Acadia is “falling apart” and that the downward spiral continues to destroy the university at the administrative level. While I perhaps have more sympathy to the former rather than the latter, which I think is sensationalist and frustrating, I would contend that the real reaction here is one which is forward-looking – Gail’s departure allows Acadia to define a new path sooner, rather than later.

By the time September rolls around, Acadia should have a new President in place. The final two projects of Dr. Gottlieb’s time at Acadia, the Biology Building originally scheduled to open this month but now delayed (again) and the revamped Acadia Advantage, will have been completed and launched respectively. The result will be an opportunity for Acadia to stop worrying about internal struggles and faculty strikes and focus on the future. We all knew that Gail wasn’t returning, so now we can move on faster and while some of the university’s problems are still fresh in our memories.

While returning from the holidays is always somewhat bittersweet, this year is particularly interesting. For me, it’s (potentially) my last semester at Acadia, and at least the conclusion of my undergraduate degree. For first year students, however, this will be their first full semester – their first time writing two sets of midterms, or their first time watching as four months goes by in the blink of an eye even without a four-week break. It makes for a unique environment, and one where we’re all trying to stop thinking about the past and move forward.

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[Moving] Images of Women:

Feminist Criticism and Reality in Television

Toril Moi’s Sexual/Textual Politics spends very little time on ‘Images of Women’ criticism; despite representing a turn to a political discourse within feminist literary theory, “it is easy today to be reproving of this type of criticism: to take it to task for not recognizing the literariness of literature” (Moi 47). While acknowledging Moi’s valid criticisms of the theory, I believe that the emphasis on realism and reflection within ‘Images of Women’ criticism has gained new relevance within the world of television. In the wake of the birth of reality television, the question of “real” in television has risen to the surface, and has resulted in a wave of series which call this into question. I want to take a look at two examples: a non-traditional television drama (HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me) and a “reality” series (MTV’s The Hills). In doing so, I want to investigate whether this medium for reality, nonexistent when Moi’s text was written, results in a similar deconstruction of ‘Images of Women’ criticism.

HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me

There are no sensationalist storylines (as seen in primetime soap operas like Desperate Housewives) within Tell Me You Love Me, which purports to be one of the most realistic portrayals of relationships on television. This was originally based on its near pornographic sex scenes, but in reality it extends to the most mundane details: drama is created through therapy sessions and discussions, as opposed to bomb scares, and we see these people doing the most mundane things, including urination. This reflects one of the main contentions, as noted by Moi, regarding ‘Images of Women’ theory, in that “toe-nail clipping and the disposal of sanitary towels…seem neglected as fictional themes” (44).

YouTube – Tell Me You Love Me

However, the series develops into one of the contradictions Moi finds within the theory: she notes that “the feminist reader of this period not only wants to see her own experience mirrored in fiction, but strives to identify with strong, impressive female characters” (46). These are not present within Tell Me You Love Me: all characters, even the therapist, are confused, unhappy and make generally terrible decisions involving their personal relationships. As a result, there are few female role models (to the degree Images of Women criticism desires) to be found here, even as they act in a realistic fashion. The series represents the idealist and contradictory viewpoint of ‘Images of Women’ criticism, even within a new medium – you can’t desire realism when you also desire a narrow portrayal of women.

MTV’s The Hills

However, there is no literary equivalent to reality television (Unless we count James Frey’s false autobiography), so shows like The Hills are uncharted territory. The show shows the lives of high society twenty-somethings who have to deal with relationship drama, friendship drama, and the everyday life of modeling in the Hollywood hills. Moi notes that ‘Images of Women’ criticism is “concerned with nurturing personal growth and raising the individual consciousness by linking literature to life” (42). However, I do not believe that even these theorists could imagine that one day The Hills would emerge as not just a connection between literature and life, but rather purporting to be reality itself.

YouTube – The Hills (Heidi and Lauren Fight)

This fight was, of course, staged and filmed from multiple angles: the show’s stars are celebrities, not real people, and any attempt to claim the series as real are inherently false. However, its female “role models” gain a level of notoriety impossible within “fiction” thanks to the show’s purported realism. By blurring the line between actor and character, ‘Images of Women’ criticism becomes even more interesting: literature and life become one and the same, and the power of the show’s portrayal of women becomes even more important. Despite the fact that these portrayals are controlled and edited by a group of shadowy figures, thus representing an unrealistic portrayal, it is presented as reality and could be taken as such (especially by young women).

In other words, even though reality is what this branch of feminist criticism strove for, that reality as found within the realm of television still does not fit into the theory’s idealistic standards. While I think that Moi’s hyper-criticism is often overbearing, I think that here she is measured: when the subject deserves and welcomes criticism, she seems fit to offer only a well-guided analysis of the theory’s flaws.

What this commentary was designed to do was retest this theory. In Moi’s analysis, she believes that the analysis is unbalanced because it fails to respect “women writers who often wrote under ideological conditions that made it impossible for them to fulfil the demands of the feminist critics” (48). However, now that these ideological conditions are no longer in place, the theory remains idealistic and contradictory; the new post-modern focus on reality still does not reconcile the concerns that Moi has with ‘Images of Women’ criticism. If anything, it is further distanced from that reality by these newfound complexities.

Greetings Myles Files readers,

Wikipedia says of “Selling Out”:

Selling out refers to the compromising of one’s integrity, morality and principles in exchange for money, ‘success’ or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this, as opposed to following the original path s/he laid (or claimed to lay) out for him/herself, is labeled a sellout and regarded with disgust and immediate loss of respect.

And, by definition, one could say that I’ve sold out by agreeing to jump over to the Acadia Student Union’s Strike Website and become their official Strike Blogger. And, on the surface, this might be the case: however, at a certain point, a blogger needs to go where they can make the most difference. And, in this case, this is working in conjunction with the Acadia Students’ Union.

The ASU Strike Information Site

http://www.theasu.com/strike/

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[For information on the Myles Files’ strike coverage, regarding the purpose and intention behind it, please refer to the Strike Mission Statement]

Students at Acadia University are supposed to be worried about midterms right now. As courses begin to pile on the tests and quizzes, and as we reach that lovely point halfway through the term, this is usually a hectic time.

However, most students are able to overcome this deluge of material with some hard work and good study habits. But this year, there is another problem that hours of studying won’t fix, and that students are not currently able to fix. Entirely out of their hands, students are now pondering what will happen if faculty goes on strike on October 15th.

The problem with this is that students are faced with a lack of information: while bits and pieces are making their way into the pipeline, for the most part students are left piecing together whatever they can through MSN and DC++ Conversations. While these have a great deal of value, they are also provided to an extremely limited audience. And I, as well, can’t possibly reach enough of the student body to answer the questions floating around.

Are they going back to the table? What does a strike mean for us? How long will they be out for? When will we know if there’s a strike? Should we go home?

Those are just an assortment of potential questions, and I will be honest with you: some of them can’t be answered. There are too many variables at stake: the state of negotiations is such that a single comment or statement could fundamentally change the answers. For the short term: Rumours have them scheduled (with no promises) to negotiate tomorrow, a strike could mean a lot of things, no one really knows how long, they have to give 48 hours notice so by Saturday morning, and only if you live nearby in my personal opinion. Not really satisfying, are they?

However, I believe that it is possible for someone, anyone, to start informing students. Because as far as I can tell, those streams of communication are not open as much as they could be.

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689.

This was the number of students who felt that a possible strike at Acadia University was worth a few hours of their time on a Friday evening. This is, actually, an impressive number, and I would like to extend my personal appreciation to each of those individuals. An especially large amount of appreciation goes out to the Frosh who have had the least amount of time to become part of this community, and yet still came to voice their opinion. Kudos.

I was going to attempt to write this blog post without contributing to the conversation during the meeting, so as to be able to establish my own neutrality, but anyone who stuck around knows that this didn’t last very long (I’m weak). But, first off, I have a fairly simple message for those who didn’t feel the meeting was worth their time:

Your affliction is apathy. We don’t have a cure. We really wish we did.

The people who didn’t show up to the meeting aren’t “stupid,” “ignorant,” or in any way terrible people: they are simply apathetic towards this cause (To those who had other commitments, I’m not including you in this distinction). Actually, I’d argue that most are likely apathetic towards all causes, but that’s another story. This was about the academic future of this university and a potential strike, and quorum could not be reached. My faith in stopping apathy’s slow march across our society is, well, waning.

For those who couldn’t make it due to work or illness or any other reason, or to those who want to do something about your apathy, you can still make your voice heard. Contact your SRC Councillor via the ASU website, or go to next Thursday’s council meeting to become part of this discourse (I’ll have a summary of events below).

But I don’t need to harp on about that, because there is one thing I really want to deal with.

Hecklers.

I want to talk about how inappropriate and classless it is to heckle during a public presentation…while apologizing for doing it myself by the end of the meeting. During the presentation of the second motion, I reacted with laughter at a comment and Alex (rightfully) called me on it. I apologize for this, as it was both hypocritical and inappropriate for the setting.

This being said, there is a major difference between laughter and even a short one-sentence remark such as “Do some research.” Rather, what I want to address is those individuals who, while the Director of Public Affairs Scott Roberts was speaking, yelled “Shut up.”

Unlike the apathetic people, I am more than willing to call these individuals classless. It is one thing to stimulate someone for more information in a quick statement, but it is entirely another to inform someone who has agreed to speak to students to shut up. I don’t care if you think that Roberts is nothing but a PR flack or that his stance is the wrong one, but treating anyone willing to step in front of an obviously hostile crowd like that is disrespectful beyond laughter or a short statement. It is disruptive, rude and reflects poorly on our ability, as students, to be willing to at least hear someone out on their side of an issue.

As for the meeting itself, for those who either didn’t attend or left before the presentations finished, here’s what went down from as neutral as perspective as someone with opinions on the issue can offer.

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It’s Tuesday night, and for the most part things are quiet across campus. There is certainly some people out and about, but tomorrow Acadia turns back to its normal state. Classes will be starting bright and early tomorrow morning, and a campus taken over by raucous celebration will become a place of higher learning once more.

But I think that although higher learning may not have been the goal, Welcome Week is nonetheless a place where a lot of learning takes place. As the campus divides on tribal lines based on one’s residence, and people are assigned names and tasks, it is impossible to avoid new experiences that will challenge even the most out-going individual.

And I would like to congratulate all of the frosh for being up to that challenge. I saw a lot of spirit, a lot of pride, and some really positive developments for certain residences. Whether it’s the small but might Tully, or the veritable army from Chase Court, each group brought to the table their own brand of energy.

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2. The Frosh Photo

I have a thing for photographs, as every single RA and NSO is aware of thanks to my incessant photo taking during our training sessions. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that I have a special place in my heart for this particular aspect of Welcome Week. While the weather forecast for tomorrow (Showers) might bring bad tidings for moving day, I’m much happier to report that Sunday is looking a-ok. And this mean that the Frosh Photo, my 2nd favourite part of Welcome Week, should be taken under sunny skies.

My love for the Frosh Photo derives not just from my love of photography, but moreso for my enjoyment of the purpose of that photography. The Frosh Photo is designed to be a keepsake, something that you can purchase once the local photography studio gets it all nice and prettied up. However, more than that, the event itself creates memories and can bring them back at any time.

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About

The Myles Files are the organized, but likely still incomprehensible, thoughts and ramblings of Myles McNutt, a fourth year English Honours student at Acadia University.

Highlights will include discussion of Acadia politics, his undergraduate thesis about Battlestar Galactica, and the general comings and going of my quasi-interesting life.

Flickr Photos