September 12th, 2005

A Little Woo Woo

Maybe everyone else found out about this long before I did, but I've discovered that Amazon has begun selling sex toys. Does this indicate that someday we're going to develop a healthy attitude toward sex in this country? With all the hype about Hot Coffee (and yes, they lied about the content, but my god, have you seen what everyone's up in arms about?), I've been wondering why the problem seems to be with sex itself, not sexuality and sexual behavior. Have you ever read Glamour? Believe me, Hot Coffee is a lot less sexually provocative; it just happens to be more visually explicit. Of course, that gets into the whole valorize-words-over-images-despite-our-image-centric-culture problem (you see, Glamour can talk about hot sex positions as long as it doesn't have photos, because that's not diiiiirty), and the misunderstandings and fear of new media, and, oh, all that fun stuff. Some days it's like hitting a horse in a barrel.

Also, for the record, evidently I'm not the only knitter out there who games. While it's not as close to the costume as I might like, you can knit yourself a Samus Aran sweater. This is, perhaps, funnier if you know both Metroid and the Aran-style family of knits. Me, I just love the color.
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Life Update

I have a tiny kitten. She is squirming around and trying to kill my fingers as I type. Of course, she's not a permanent addition to my household, but damn, is she cute.

School started this past week, and I've got mostly good news. We got a huge shipment of games up at the game farm; while we were pretty good on PS2 games (mostly from my collection) and XBox stuff (thanks to a very kind donation from Microsoft), we were low on PC and Nintendo games. Well, now we've got a whole bunch of new stuff to play, including half-a-dozen Nintendo DS games. Whee! I totally need to borrow the DS and see what they've done with alternate interfaces, but I'm way too obsessed with World of Warcraft to play much else. Yikes!

(By the way, I've got my druid up to level 28. Good times.)

I finally managed to sort out my PhD. requirement mess; it turns out that I'll be formally switching departments, but keeping my full funding, my fantastic advisor and my research topic. The only downside is that I've got a number more requirements, particularly a four-course sequence of statistics courses which have to be done in order. Ah well, I'll take classes in both summer semesters next summer and be ready for a literature review and dissertation proposal the following year. This might add an extra semester to my time at school, or it might not. I hear these "dissertation" things can be awfully fluid, so it's hard to predict exactly how long I'd be in school anyhow.

Of course, given that I've got all these new requirements, choosing courses this semester has been a bit of a pain. I've got three of my classes set, though (see my schedule below), and I could use some advice about my fourth class.

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So, here are my questions:

Should I switch Statistics from T-Th to M-W? It would allow me to take Herve Varenne's class on psychology and anthropology, which will be really useful for my qualitative research, and will also free up some time on Tuesdays. On the other hand, I find that I can't write or do research without long stretches of time to muck about in. Having uninterrupted time on Monday and Wednesday afternoons is going to be a major academic boon to me.

Should I take an independent study with my advisor as my fourth class? I've got four or five conference presentations and publications of various sorts coming up, and it would be useful to have a context in which to work on them, since it's a huge amount of work. On the other hand, Duncan Watts is teaching a class on social networks, and my friend Ulysses is doing a really neat-looking course on social software, and there's always Varenne's anthropology class, and some of those (particularly Watts) won't be offered next semester . . . .

Should I run a Game Practice Group (for which I would also want a better name)? This would basically be a student group that got together once a week to talk games. I'd probably rotate weeks between theory, critique, research and practice. On theory weeks we'd do reading about games, on crit weeks we'd play games and discuss them, on research weeks we'd look at existing game research and suggest ideas for studies of our own, and on practice weeks we'd do game design jams. I could also cut it down to every other week, and just alternate between reading (of both theory and research) and game design. If I were to do this, how much commitment should I make to it, and when do you think would be a good time to run it? This is also related to the question of whether I should volunteer to teach a game class next semester . . . though I suppose they would pay me to do it. Fun. :)

Thanks for any input you've got, guys!
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