Fake Kitsch! Not Really the 80s!

There is a part of me that misses the 80s. I miss the loud grating sound a floppy drive disk would make for a second or two before it loaded a new area of your text-based adventure game. You knew, when you heard that sound, that something important was happening. Everything about this “How To Do the Thriller” dance video is loud and grating. Note that I don’t actually miss…

Advice for My Conservative Students

A professor who had been a conservative undergraduate (but who now identifies as libertarian-left) offers advice to red students who feel marginalized in a blue academy. Take the tremendous opportunity of a college education to sharpen your skills and deepen your knowledge. Read Edmund Burke, Matthew Arnold, Russell Kirk, Thomas Sowell, Michael Oakeshott and Peggy Noonan. Acknowledge arguments you disagree with on their own terms, and respond to their substance.…

First They Got Sick, Then They Moved Into a Virtual Utopia

When my son was about five, I sat him on my lap and let him explore the world of Riven (the sequel to the point-and-click adventure Myst). I remember feeling his back muscles tense up when he approached a cave and the music got creepy. “Can I go in?” he asked. I told him he could do whatever he wanted. He turned to look at me, as if to assess…

John Oliver Returns to Out-News the News—by Ignoring Trump

I prefer reading and listening to the news rather than watching it, but I’m glad to know that some TV news is focusing on depth. While cable news and online reporters struggle to report on Kellyanne Conway’s most recent TV appearance or fact-check the latest Sean Spicer press conference, Oliver and his team of four researchers can quietly spend months on a single 20-minute segment about something that will be…

I touched up an intro to hypertext essays from 2000.

When I initially wrote this introduction to hypertext essays in 2000, my assumption was that readers would be experienced writers who already knew what an essay was, so that I could use that knowledge to differentiate between an ordinary essay and a hypertext essay. By 2017, we are teaching “multimodal composition” in our freshman writing classes. Some of the students come in with great writing skills (and I always tell them…