Reads of the Week: October 5, 2012

I’ve fallen in love with poetry! You knew it would happen eventually. Yes, I had a dalliance with Yeats when I was much younger – it was during my romantic Irish phase – but we drifted apart. Thanks to a modern poetry class I’m taking at Coursera – an online educational platform – I’m spending time with Emily, Walt, William, Gertrude, Alan, and many more. And you know what? This could be serious. My course would be interesting and challenging no matter what, but UPenn professor Al Filreis and his posse of TAs have made the #modpo experience even more enriching than I ever imagined. I love technology!

Now that I “get” Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein, this makes me laugh: Drunk Texts from Famous Authors.

Become of innovative teachers like Al and technology like Coursera, online education is so much better than what it used to be. Salman Khan is one of the guys we can thank for that. He started out a few years ago making YouTube videos for a cousin who was struggling with math. Today he’s teaching millions at his online Khan Academy. I heard him this week on the Diane Rehm show talking about Khan Academy and his new book, The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined. You can listen to that interview, watch his TED 2011 talk video and read an excerpt from his book on the show’s site.

Evidence of our daily life – the stuff of history – is captured in emails, blog posts, Facebook updates or tweets. In the last few decades, we’ve seen other formats come and go – Usenet groups (my first web addiction), floppy disks, and other now “archaic” storage devices. More people are documenting lives than ever before but how much will survive for future historians? Tom Chatfield at the BBC got me thinking about this in his piece, The Decaying Web & Our Disappearing History.

Another modern world problem: when your iPhone apps are stuck on the “Waiting” icon during installation. It happened to me about a month ago. Lifehacker tells you how to get things moving again.

Here’s a chilling reminder that things aren’t always what they appear to be, especially on the web. Every IT director should send a synopsis of this Washington Post article to the staff in their organization. Most of us know better than to click on links in spammy or suspicious emails or tweets, but we’ll always be easy marks when an email appears to come from a colleague. As Post reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr. says, In cyberattacks, hacking humans is highly effective way to access systems.”

Enough gloom and doom. Last weekend I discovered a poem by Raleigh poet Dorianne Laux. Antilamentation is “a poetic antidote to regret,” says Maria Popova at Brain Pickings where you can read or listen to the poem. Antilamentation is especially good for anyone who’s over-thought the past too much. “Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it.”

I loved Eric G. Wilson’s amusing account of his relationship with Wordsworth in the Paris Review: If You See Wordsworth at the Side of the Road. Wilson, an English professor at Wake Forest University, writes:

“In life and verse, he set an irresistible but inaccessible standard of contact: of enlivening intimacy with wind, water, earth, and sun—a marriage of mind and matter in which mind never feels abandoned.

Depressed and isolated, I have craved this union. I have studied Wordsworth assiduously. I have become an expert in the Romantic school of which he is the prime exemplar. For twenty years, I have taught his poetry…I’ve already undertaken two pilgrimages to the Lakes.

But poet’s abundance has mocked my poverty. When I glimpse the blooms he immortalized, and so gorgeously described—buttery, frilly, dancing in the breeze—they hiss to me: loser. They make the hurt worse, my self-loathing sharper. I’d kill Wordsworth if I saw him on the road.”

It’s a gorgeous, funny, and heart-warming essay. Read it this weekend.

Sometimes it only takes two to rock your world. A few hours ago I first heard Tickin’ Bomb from Shovels & Rope. Their vocals remind me of John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X – another band with a country tinge.

One of my favorite songs this year, yes, year, is from another duo, Wye Oak. Their song Civilian sticks in my brain like few other songs, but I don’t mind. Here’s a performance they did for Seattle radio station KEXP – check that station out too. I love watching Andy Stack play all his instruments, wild. Walking Dead fans, this version is for you.

Happy Friday!

Wye Oak at Larimer Lounge in Denver (photo by Jester Jay Goldman)

Author: deirdrereid

Deirdre is a freelance writer for companies serving the association market, who after more than 20 years in the association and restaurant industries, is enjoying the good life as a ghostblogger and content marketing writer. Away from her laptop, you can find her walking in the woods, doing yoga, going to shows, journaling, cooking, or relaxing in a comfy chair with a good book and a glass of something tasty in hand.

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