Coba Ruins

About a year ago I boarded a plane to explore the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. In between , I was able to compose a few humble witticisms detailing my experiences there, which were profound and far-reaching. Hope you enjoy on this chilly December morning~

Jacob Richter

Top, from left: Recovered Mesoamerican ballgame court; Coba ruins from peak; Coba, viewed from ground. Bottom: A selfie; a family portrait- typical tourist stuff; Mayan glyph script, the only fully-developed pre-Columbian writing system in the Americas, of particular interest to me on the trip.

3 January 2016.  10:45a.m.  Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. 

“The captain of the winning team,” Germán says, “earned the honor of being sacrificed to the gods.”  We stop in our tracks in the hot dirt.  Sweat cascades down our foreheads as we turn toward the guide, a young man who quit his office job and abandoned his college degree to spend six days a week guiding tourists through thousand year old Mayan ruins.  “Some reward, eh?”

An uneasy laugh emanates through our little group of American and European travelers.  The idea is entirely foreign to us; we’re more intrigued than repulsed.  The traditional game still practiced ceremonially by the Maya involves a ball…

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Distance-Learning Writing Instruction

I won’t be doing this often, but I want to invite any readers of this blog to head over to my other blog that focuses on writing alone to read a piece on distance-learning writing instruction that I think can be interesting to anyone with an interest in writing or the teaching of it.

Writing instruction that takes place on the web, whether on a Blackboard page, a YouTube video, a Twitter hashtag or another place that borrows the practices, values and habits of new media, faces increased scrutiny in the higher education environment today.

Head over to my blog 21stCenturySophist to take a look at Distance Learning Epistemologies.

It is my argument that online learning pedagogies in many of their incarnations do not pay close enough attention to deliberately re-training social web rhetorical practices students use outside of the classroom to properly fit the learning outcomes the courses seek to disseminate.

Hope you enjoy, and have a great rest of the week~

NaNoWriMo Update- Looking Back

Yikes—– December is nearly halfway over!  November, which is national novel-writing month, saw me complete about 30,000 words of my novel If We Deny History.  Although I began the month with a bit of a head start, I achieved my goal of reaching the 50,000 words that are generally considered to constitute a small novel, around the size of The Great Gatsby.  The process was challenging, time-consuming and at times frustrating.  I spent lots of time in the coffee shops of Syracuse, NY- the baristas of Recess Coffee and Cafe Kubal know me very well as the annoying customer who orders a small coffee and proceeds to type away at his computer for five hours.  I also write from Syracuse University’s Bird Library, and of course from home.  My resulting manuscript, though not exactly finished and certainly no where near complete, represents a project I’m profoundly satisfied at having completed.  It’s the culminating project of my career so far, perhaps my entire life.  I’m proud.  I’m excited to get back to work editing, rewriting and polishing. Lots remains, but for now I’m allowing myself a small bit of pride for this accomplishment.  I’ll get back to work soon.

I’m submitting applications for graduate school as well, which is an inherently strenuous process.  I have particular trouble “managing” the colleagues and former professors who I’ve asked to write me recommendation letters.  So far, so good, however.

My comp classes at SUNY OCC are also progressing well.  It’s my first semester as a full-time teacher, and I’m really enjoying the pedagogical aspects of teaching.  Setting goals, learning objectives and outcomes, integrating digital media into our curriculum, working collaboratively and ecologically, etc. We’ve been doing a lot of writing, and my students have been providing me a lot of useful feedback on how to improve the art of critical thinking instruction.

Lastly, I want to press everyone reading this post to act to protect our natural landscape in the Adirondack region of New York State (especially in the wake of recent climate change-denying cabinet appointments in our presidential administration).  A massive tract of land should be classified as “Wilderness” to protect it for all to enjoy.  State lawmakers need to be reminded that there are hundreds of concerned citizens willing to act to protect this valuable region.

You can write your letter (takes one minutes) by clicking this link. 

Announcement- New Blog

Hi all,

Announcement: I’m beginning a new blog.  The new site is called 21stCenturySophist and will cater to my scholarly and academic interests in writing, rhetoric and college composition.

This blog will continue on as the place where I’ll be posting excerpts from creative projects, cultural commentary and my scattered thoughts on politics, music, art and society.

This blog AceOfSpaece will be tailored for a general audience, as it always has been, while 21stCenturySophist will be written with an academic audience of rhetoric and English scholars in mind.

Go ahead and check the new site out if it sounds interesting to you! Enjoy your Sunday morning 🙂

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, best known as the “Foreclosure King” for his actions after the 2008 financial crisis, will be named US Treasury Secretary for the Trump Administration

I was truly stunned when Donald Trump won the electoral college and the US election a few weeks ago.  No one expected it. As an ardent Bernie Sanders supporter in the primary and before that a long-standing fan of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, I’d shifted my allegiance to support instead the lesser of two evils in the general election, though even at her worst I never saw HC as anything resembling evil.  Rather, it was what she stood for, who she stood with: Wall Street.  Clinton was simply a status quo, big-business friendly, environmentally conservative Democrat who leaned toward the center-edge of the party rather than the progressive side.

Though Trump’s election is disastrous for both domestic and foreign policies, I must confess to harboring a small bit of hope that Trump’s ascension might disturb the status-quo neoliberalism that has so defined American life for the past 40 years.  Unfortunately, his cabinet choices have set US policy back 30 years in both social and economic realms, ranging from white nationalist Steve Bannon to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose chief task in the administration is to, in Trump’s words, reduce “burdensome government regulations,” specifically within the coal and fossil fuel industries. Every one of Trump’s administrative picks is opposed LGBTQ equality, and many have unsatisfactory track records when it comes to issues concerning race, sex and ethical behavior.

Most terrifying among this group is likely incoming Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  Trump’s treasury pick is an ex-Goldman Sachs banker best known for evicting thousands of families after the 2008 financial crisis, a man dubbed the “foreclosure king.” He promises the “largest tax change since Reagan” through measures that will do nothing to improve the lives of the poor, yet will exponentially benefit the already-rich.  His proposed cuts on corporate and personal taxes de-regulate the actions of Wall Street and function to intensify the income inequality gap that has plagued domestic policy since expansion of neoliberal business rhetorics since the 70’s and 80’s (the so-called “trickle-down” phenomenon that has been fooling voters for years).

Elizabeth Warren has referred to Mnuchin as the “Forrest Gump of the Financial Crisis” due to his somehow managing to “participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street.”  Trump’s cabinet appointments have long been what has worried me the most through the election season.  The man is completely unqualified to judge character and expertise, having no experience doing so in a government setting, and seems to make his policy choices up on the fly based on the person he most recently shared a room with.

All of this, after attacking Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street for nine months. During the campaign, Trump ran an advertisement portraying Goldman Sachs employees as the “personification of the global elite.”  Clearly this was just empty campaign rhetoric; Trump has demonstrated himself to be wholly uncommitted to delivering on any of his previous promises.  He’s appointed two former Goldman Sachs employees to his cabinet so far, with a third quite possibly on the way.

So much for “draining the swamp.” So much for shaking up Washington.