The world’s oldest story? Astronomers say global myths about ‘seven sisters’ stars may reach back 100,000 years

In cultures around the world, myths about “seven sisters” describe a cluster of stars, but today the naked eye can only discern six stars. What’s up with that? Cultures around the world call the Pleiades constellation ‘seven sisters’, even though we can only see six stars today. But things looked quite different 100,000 years ago. […] How come the Australian Aboriginal stories are so similar to the Greek ones? Anthropologists…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In October 2001, I was blogging about nothing, apostrophes, the anthrax scare, and Boilerplate

In October 2001, I was blogging about Nothing Matters. (A teaching metaphor that had a big impact on my pedagogy… I’m glad I had the occasion to revisit it. Even when I blogged it 20 years ago there were a lot of broken links on the site, but the main idea is still completely valid) The Apostrophe Protection Society Job Hunting Tips (satire from The Onion) Walking Sports Database Scorns…

What do you think… is it safe to throw out this to-do list from 1989?

As an undergrad, every morning before I headed out for the day, I would print my schedule (on a clackety dot-matrix printer that took fan-fold paper). At this point I don’t think I was using any fancy software, just keeping a list in a text editor. I had 9 credits of internships as an undergrad, and don’t remember what the noon interview was. It looks like I must have scheduled…

Bound Together by an Historic Moment

I was a young faculty member teaching a two-hour freshman comp lab in Wisconsin the morning of September 11, 2001. On my way back to the office, I happened to pass the English faculty lounge, and saw people watching the TV news coverage of the Twin Towers. When I heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon, I called home to check on my sister. She was living in the…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In September, 2001 I was blogging about…

With a grant from UWEC, I was able to invite foundational computer game designer Scott Adams to a seminar on Storytelling in Computer Games. I used tiny analog tape recorder at the speaker’s podium, and later worked with my student Matt Hoy to post a hyperlinked transcript to go along with the audio. (This was really cutting edge stuff 20 years ago, and I’m glad the site still works. This…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In August, 2001 I was blogging about…

Broken Links and Poor Information Architecture (and of course the link to that article had broken, and the site taken over by low-value clickbait… but the Internet Archive preserved the original article) Helvetica Bold Oblique Sweeps Fontys (satire from the Onion, from an alternate timeline where typefaces get the respect they deserve) Boys and handwriting (from “equal-but-different” feminist Christina Hoff Summers) Velma from Scooby-Doo (a year or so before the…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In June, 2001 it seems I only blogged three times…

I’m not sure what else I was doing during the month of June 2001, but I only blogged three times. All three links were dead, like tears in rain. As is my habit with all items I feature in my “I was blogging about…” series, I’ve replaced the broken links with archived content from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Author “used up all the hardship” from her youth in her…

A WWII Propaganda Campaign Popularized the Myth That Carrots Help You See in the Dark

Yet another widely held cultural myth falls to the cold hard power of actual research. During the 1940 Blitzkrieg, the Luftwaffe often struck under the cover of darkness. In order to make it more difficult for the German planes to hit targets, the British government issued citywide blackouts. The Royal Air Force were able to repel the German fighters in part because of the development of a new, secret radar technology. The on-board…

I absolutely adored Spock. Loving Dad was much more complicated.

A great father-son story, written by Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy. I was 10 when “Star Trek” debuted in 1966, and I was reading Spider-Man comics and listening to the Beatles at home in LA — a very different experience from having to deliver newspapers in the dead of a Boston winter. Dad’s zeal for work had its downside. His career always came first. He was not one to…

How Nasty Was Nero, Really?

In The New Yorker, Rebecca Reed reports on modern historians’ efforts to rehabilitate the Roman emperor Nero, whose name has become synonymous with corruption. Depictions of Nero as notorious are “based on a source narrative that is partisan,” Thorsten Opper, a curator in the Greek and Roman division of the British Museum, told me recently. The museum has just opened an exhibition that, if not quite aiming to rehabilitate Nero,…

1993: Curses (Aaron A. Reed’s “50 Years of Text Games”)

The latest in Aaron A. Reed’s monumental project” 50 Years of Text Games” focuses on Graham Nelson’s programming language Inform, and in particular his game “Curses.” “You have to get a coin from the temple of zeus to buy the ekmek,” explained one responder. “To do that you need to use the rod of luck. To use the rod of luck you have to change the nature of the universe.”…

The Current War (Quantum Theatre Musical)

Waiting for The Current War to start. I haven’t seen live professional theater in a long time. I saw lots of good video theater, but it’s just not the same. [Addendum] I really enjoyed the show. I knew a bit about Edison and Westinghouse, but I was surprised (and delighted) at how skillfully the writer, director, and cast embedded the story of William Kemmler, the first man to be executed…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In May, 2001 I was blogging about lanuguage, design and Cliffs Notes

In May 2001, I was blogging about Business and the English language (a humorous rant against business jargon) — Clint Witchalls, Spectator Some features you may need on your computer (like “Extend Deadline” and “Read Bosses’ Minds” The Creator of Cliffs Notes has Died (though I know you won’t read his whole obituary) “Telling the Truth about Damned Lies and Statistics“ The Gist Generation –Jeff Barbian Bad Design Can Be…

Veteran’s microphone cut off when he discusses Black people’s role in establishing Memorial Day

Who is this nobody Memorial Day keynote speaker who dared to make white patriots feel discomfort by bringing up facts that trigger their racism?  It’s not history unless it affirms my world view, right? Where does the lying America-hating fake news media come up with these stories? There so bias!! A ceremony organizer turned off a microphone when a retired Army lieutenant colonel began sharing a story about freed Black…

30 years later, Sierra’s Laura Bow mysteries are still a treasure

When I was in college and grad school, a couple of times of year I would stay with my sister in her apartment for a long weekend, and we would splurge on junk food (often Keebler Fudge Sticks) and video games (often the latest Sierra point-and-click adventure). I remember playing The Colonel’s Bequest in my senior year in college, and The Dagger of Amon Ra while I was in Toronto…