Cooking and Composition

adventures in discourse and dinner

11/8/14: What C&C’s Reading This Week — November 8, 2014

11/8/14: What C&C’s Reading This Week

Three Lessons from the Science of How to Teach Writing” on Education by the Numbers. This blog provides some scientific evidence from an in-press article by Steven Graham, Karen Harris, and Tanya Santangelo. Using 250 studies on teaching K-12 writing, they provide some tips for more effective writing: spend more time doing it, use the computer, and stop try to give direct grammar instruction. That last bit is my favorite. If you’re still in the drill-and-skill (skill-and-drill?) methods of teaching things like punctuation and verb tenses, please read this.

Jonathan Krohn’s “I was a Right-Wing Child Star” on Salon. Published in July 2012 (so why I am I just now seeing it?!), Krohn discusses the change in perspective he had as he aged. At 13, he spoke at CPAC; at 17 he left the conservatives (who promptly bullied him). I wonder what his political dispositions and thoughts are now, at 19?

Abby Haglage’s “Judge Could Smash Marijuana Law” on The Daily Beast. As awesome as it is that 23 states have some form of legalized marijuana use, and four states + the District of Columbia have officially legalized recreational marijuana use, the results of a case in California could, as Haglage says, “start a legal revolution.” US District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is reviewing whether or not the DEA’s classification of marijuana as a schedule 1 substance (meaning the most addictive that has no medical use) is valid. Seems about right seeing as so many states are legalizing pot for medical use before they do for recreational use. While Haglage emphases Judge Mueller’s ruling would only apply to the specific case she’s currently reviewing, her decision could be the start of significant changes in marijuana classification and legalization.

Beenish Ahmed’s “The Global Shame of the United States: Why America Elects So Few Women” on ThinkProgress. Ahmed compares the election rates of women in various countries, putting the US at number 85. At the time of Ahmed’s writing, less than 20% of Congress was women, and some countries that we tend to view as more oppressive against women are ranked higher than us (like China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia). In a country that sees itself as the land of freedom and equal opportunity, this is disheartening.

Eyder Peralta’s “A Win in West Virginia makes Saira Blair State’s Youngest Law Maker” on NPR. I think it’s kind of cool that an 18-year-old is politically active, especially re: my recent post. But this also scares me: a young woman who is privileged enough to be in this position and who has some anti-woman characteristics to her platform (like most woman republicans). I’m curious to follow her time as a politician, especially because its relatively easy to dismiss most political teenagers as simply regurgitating their parents’ perspectives. I can’t decide if I hope this is the case or not.

Deena Shanker’s “Chicken is Killing the Planet” on Salon. Now, this was published in September, but I just saw it in my social media today. Apparently, the USDA has approved a process for US-raised-and-slaughtered chicken to be sent to China for processing and then imported back into the US for sell and consumption. Shanker includes some disgusting facts, like “According to a 2009 USDA study, 87 percent of chicken cadavers tested positive for E. coli, feces’ favorite bacteria, just before they are packaged and sent to a store near you.” I struggle to imagine a world where this is economically practical. And if the goal isn’t for “Big Chicken” to save money in the production process and thus see more profits, what’s the impetus for this? And why, WHY, would the USDA approve this kind of process that relies on self-regulation?

Paul Buchheit’s “5 Disturbing Facts that Show the System is Rigged Against America’s Middle Class” originally published on AlterNet but now also available on Salon. I’m just going to let this gem stand alone: “Here in the U.S., with nearly a third of the world’s wealth, just 47 individuals own more than all 160 million people (about 60 million households) below the median wealth level of about $53,000.” Yowza.

Marcie Bianco’s “There’s a Horrifying Secret Behind Those Trendy Feminist T-Shirts” on Mic. The “trendy” t-shirts apparently cost about 70 USD (what?!) and the workers making them only get paid abut 1 USD per hour. How’s that for labor rights? I’ll just buy a t-shirt and make my own, thanks.

I also finished James Browning’s The Fracking King: A Novel. It follows Winston, a competitive Scrabble player, in his year at Hale Boarding School for Boys, where tap water can be set on fire because of nearby fracking. It was a pretty solid read, but I’m not sure I have enough to say about it to write up a full review. We’ll see after I’ve thought on it a few more days.


Review: Hidden by Catherine McKenzie — April 23, 2014

Review: Hidden by Catherine McKenzie

When Amazon started e-mailing me a book about picking out a free book every month before anyone else could buy it on Kindle, I figured “why not?” But I still didn’t get in a hurry to read any of the books I’ve been selecting.

Last week, I decided to give Hidden by Catherine McKenzie a try. I probably read a description of the book when I chose it, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. The prologue, which ends with the perspective character’s death, totally hooked me in.

The Goodreads summary says:

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son as well as contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members, and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother, who was her ex-boyfriend. Tish volunteers to attend the funeral on her company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life.

Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish, and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, the repercussions of our personal choices, and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love.

So, there’s death, a couple of different love affairs, and an interesting set of shifting perspectives between a dead man, his wife, and his girlfriend. It took me a few minutes to get used to the shifting points of view, especially when Jeff’s perspective starting coming through. Where was he speaking from? How was he able to share his story?

To say that shift was a bit jarring is an understatement, but after I got about halfway through the book, it seemed to feel right. However, his perspective is also kind of what ruined the book for me.

I was all set up to love this book until the very last chapter. I could sympathize with both Tish and Claire. While the book was often sad, I enjoyed (doesn’t that sound sick?) watching both of their stories unfold, overlap, and then go their separate ways. Tish and Claire were so realistic, like I could walk out my front door and meet either one of them for dinner or drinks. It’s not often that I feel that way about characters, so these two really worked for me.

But the final chapter ruined it for me, and I won’t explain why here because, in the words of River Song, *spoilers.*

In short, this was a good book. It was great to read and I really enjoyed it, but I was ultimately dissatisfied by the end. I’m glad I didn’t pay anything for this, but I definitely would not be disappointed if I had!


Review: Feminist Rhetorical Practices by Royster and Kirsch — April 14, 2014

Review: Feminist Rhetorical Practices by Royster and Kirsch

I started reading Jacqueline Jones Royster and Gesa E. Kirsch’s Feminist Historical Practices: New Horizons for Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies as it was selected for March/April by Goodreads Comp/Rhet Reading Group. This is my first time reading along with the club and attempting to participating, but unfortunately there hasn’t been much discussion happening. If you’re interested, you can (and should) check out the club!

I really enjoyed reading FHP, in part because it’s very different than most of the scholarly work I select on my own. That being said, I am seeing many connections between the practices that Royster and Kirsch discuss and my own strategies for research. It has certainly caused me to think more about where feminist research methods come into play and how I can connect those to my own work. Continue reading

Spring Break Give Away! — March 7, 2014

Spring Break Give Away!

If you’re reading this, I just finished up teaching my last class before Spring Break!

What a semester it’s been so far. Between snow days, technology issues, yada yada yada. . .I am so ready for this week off. And I’ve even managed to keep up with grading so that I get to have a week off.

This is rare. I still have some work to do, but nothing major. Yay!

And to share this excitement, I’ve got a GIVE AWAY for you! Continue reading

Review: Bellman and Black — March 5, 2014

Review: Bellman and Black

Bellman & Black
I won a free copy from Atria Books on Goodreads, so that’s a silver lining here.

I was really, really excited to start Bellman & Black, the second novel by Diane Setterfield. I adored her first book, The Thirteenth Tale.

I had been warned that Bellman & Black was nothing like The Thirteenth Tale. And I wanted to believe that that was okay, that it would be fine, that Setterfield’s academic-y prose and excellent use of suspense would win out.

It didn’t. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Never Have I Ever — March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Never Have I Ever

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is pretty fun: what popular authors have you never read? This is the first time in a while that I’ve participated in the weekly meme from The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s hard for me to think of authors that I haven’t read. My brain immediately jumped to those authors who I have limited familiarity with (Jane Austen, anyone?). So I went to this list of Popular Authors on Goodreads.


So here we have it: Ten Authors I’ve Never Read. Continue reading

Wikipedia and Research Writing: A Dream Course Design? — February 16, 2014

Wikipedia and Research Writing: A Dream Course Design?

Image of Notes on Kuhne and Creel 2012Today while being totally unacademic, I came across the December 2012 issue of Teaching English in the Two-Year College on my desk. I had glanced over it a couple of times but not done much actual reading of it, probably because I was completely absorbed with my reading list about when it came out. For some reason, one of the articles caught my eye today, about teaching with Wikipedia in the first-year research writing classroom.

Continue reading