Well Done: Iowa’s Zach Wahls Featured on the Daily Show about Being a Child Raised by Gay Parents

Iowa's Zach Wahls appears on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART.

Iowa’s Zach Wahls appears on THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART.

Very proud to be an Iowan and of Zach Wahls, who was interviewed as a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Wahls discussed his new book, My Two Moms, and how the 12 rules of the Boy Scouts were exemplified by his parents in raising him.

The video of the Daily Show interview is here.

His original speech to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in opposition to a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage is below.

in defense of the digital humanities, open courseware, and online publishing

This is one of the best cases I’ve seen for the Digital Humanities, open courseware, and online publishing. It demonstrates the need for universities, and especially tenure-granting committees to consider digital media as equally worthy of consideration during tenure reviews as scholarly articles printed on paper in peer-review journals and monographs published by traditional academic publishers. This transition should be hastened by the present scampering of traditional print publishers to establish digital publishing presences online (as I’ve mentioned here). It is also a clever demonstration of the legitimacy that advances in online education, improvements in Wikipedia contributor rules, blogging, Google scholar projects, harnessing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, course management systems like Moodle, and new forms of 3D and hypermedia publishing have brought not only to the Digital Humanities, but to scholarship in general. Give it a view and leave comments below.

HT: Amanda Waldo

Quote of the Day: On Burning Books

Henry Jones“It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.” – Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (.wav)

Goose-stepping morons. That is perhaps the most appropriate term ever used to describe those who burn books. Be it a Bible, a Torah, a Talmud, a Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sruti, the Upanishads, the Adi Granth, the Tao Te Ching, the Kojiki, the Pali Canon, the Book of Mormon, the Ginza Rba, Dianetics, the Avesta, the U.S. Constitution, the Little Red Book, Mein Kampf, the Humanist Manifesto, or Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, YOU DON’T BURN BOOKS!

Of course you have the First Amendment right to burn a book a protest, but the First Amendment doesn’t protect you from looking like a bigoted fool. Burning Qur’ans to commemorate 9/11 is as foolish as Muslim extremists who burn the U.S. flag in protest of U.S. policy, or fundamentalist Christians who ban and burn their science textbooks because they teach evolution. You all look like idiots!

If you want to protest the behavior of an extremist, don’t become an extremist. If you want to exercise your First Amendment right to draw the face of the prophet Muhammad, or draw Jesus in a cartoon, OK, but remember that your act is designed to piss people off, and the less intelligent patient among us often take the bait and actually get pissed off. While it is true that radical Muslims exhibit a hypocritical double standard by becoming apoplectic at the desecration of a Qur’an while they burn the U.S. flag and label Christians and Jews “infidels,” you do not overcome bigotry by becoming one.

The Rev. Terry Jones and his 50-person band of disciples at the Dove World Outreach Center are no more representative of Christianity than al-Qaeda is of Islam. Likewise, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you ought to. And, while the First Amendment does not protect all speech (forgery, threats to personal safety, criminal impersonation, libel, defamation, etc.), it does protect one’s right to protest and demonstrate in a peaceful manner. Then again, the First Amendment also allows people to act like idiots.

The same First Amendment right that grants freedom of speech also grants the freedom to act like a fool.

academic publishers should make digital copies of their books available online for free

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education

attention academic publishers. a new article by david wiley in the chronicle of higher education‘s ‘wired campus’ section entitled ‘giving away academic books online can actually help print sales‘ makes a lot of sense, and there is data to back it up.

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has been digitally distributing free copies of its books, but print sales have not declined. “After the complimentary distribution of 21 titles in 2008 that had for many years only been available in print, sales of these titles increased by 7 percent compared with the previous two years,” institute officials reported on their Web site.

i was particularly struck by a comment by james boyle, co-founder of the center for the study of the public domain at duke university school of law. he explains why it is beneficial for academic publishers to make digital volumes available for free:

First, most people hate reading a book on a screen, but like finding out if it is worth buying. I am sure I have lost some sales, but my guess is that I have gained more new readers who otherwise would be unaware of my work, and who treat the digital version as a ‘sampler,’ to which they then introduce others.

this actually makes a lot of sense. a scholar can flood the market with his or her ideas, which increases the visibility of the book and its arguments. those arguments then become a more talked about part of the public and academic debate because of increased familiarity with the subject matter. if the argument withstands scholarly scrutiny, it will become a ‘must have’ volume. because scholars take pride in their libraries (much like popular music listeners *have* to have the new cd of their favorite artists), they will order the book. thus, the free distribution of academic books in a digital form allows readers a preview of a book they might not otherwise have purchased. (and does this strategy sound familiar??)

this won’t necessarily work with popular books, because popular readers aren’t concerned with building up their libraries. but for academics, this is a marketing strategy that makes a lot of sense because it appeals to a scholar’s fundamental desire: the ability to say, ‘i’ve read that. in fact, i have a copy if you want to borrow it.’

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