Personal

The case for Facebook and social networking

Even though Facebook currently has over 200 million active users, many people continue to doubt the value of social networking in general and Facebook in particular. Critics argue that Facebook and other social networking and Web 2.0 tools - including blogs and Twitter - are symptomatic of the “solipsism” (meaning, in this context, the self-absorption of users) of the contemporary Internet. Indeed, Facebook can be an enormous time-waster and procrastination tool, as can any medium or Internet resource.

New short fiction: 'The Day-Trader'

“The Day-Trader,” my most recent short story, is being featured in the July issue of Fogged Clarity. Check it out here. There is a lot of great stuff in this issue - fiction, poetry, a short film, visual art, a music album, and an essay - so be sure to check out the other pieces as well. If you like what you see, you can support Fogged Clarity by linking to it, passing it along to others, and making a donation.

Transitions: A personal update

No more than three weeks after making my final decision to move to Ann Arbor to pursue an M.A. in Education at the University of Michigan and become a high school history teacher, it is happening: my furniture is being sold or moved, my possessions are being sorted into boxes. Yesterday was my last day at the bookstore I’ve worked at as a manager since August. On Friday I’ll be on the road to Muskegon with a stuffed car and another empty apartment behind me, and on Sunday I’ll be in Ann Arbor to begin the next stage of my life.

War: The More We Spend on It, the More We Get

My latest op-ed, “War: The More We Spend on It, the More We Get,” appeared on Antiwar.com this morning. In it, I write: “President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates’ $534 billion defense budget proposal is aimed at building a “21st-century military,” that is, a military designed to fight asymmetrical “small wars,” conduct anti-terrorism operations, and battle insurgencies. It shuffles a significant number of pieces around the chessboard, to be sure, but like its predecessors, it is an enormous waste of resources and wealth.

For many in Chicago, driving is a necessity, not a luxury

My most recent op-ed, “For us, Mr. Daley, driving to work is a necessity, not a vice” (registration required) was published today on Chicagobusiness.com and will appear in this week’s issue of Crain’s Chicago Business. You can find the article here as well as reprinted below: — For us, Mr. Daley, driving to work is a necessity, not a vice Ryan McCarl It is exceedingly difficult for many commuters living on the North Side to find free parking after they return from work.

Becoming a teacher and a Michigan Wolverine

I’m excited to report that I have decided to enter the University of Michigan School of Education’s Secondary MAC (MA in Education with Secondary Certification) program in mid-June. The program is 12 months long and includes over 1,000 hours of classroom experience as a student teacher and substitute teacher, resulting in full certification. I look forward to finding unique ways to show my students the importance of learning and reading as well as the value of informed engagement with current events and politics.

Out of Range: The ethics of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

My latest op-ed, “Out of Range,” appeared in this morning’s edition of Antiwar.com. In it, I explore the ethical dilemma of the U.S.’s ongoing campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan. This is shaping up to be one of the hottest contemporary debates in foreign policy circles. I write: “Technology and wealth have made it possible for the U.S. to exercise decisive military power anywhere in the world. But our technology and our wealth often outrun our wisdom, our prudence, and our moral sensibilities.

Why we must remember Iraq

“The Next Forgotten War,” an op-ed of mine, was published on Antiwar.com this morning; check it out here.  In it, I argue that we must keep the memory of the Iraq War, and the individuals caught up in its maelstroms, alive: “As Iraq recedes from the headlines and slips from the public’s mind to make room for the next ‘crisis,’ we have a responsibility to give some thought to the two million Iraqi refugees displaced by the war and the tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed or maimed as a consequence of the war.

Article on Coach John Swinburne

An article I wrote about my incredible high school cross country coach, John Swinburne, was published today in the Muskegon Chronicle and on MLive.com. Check it out here. Swinburne has worked formally and informally in education as a coach, teacher, athletic director, driver’s ed instructor, youth group leader, and mentor to thousands of students in the Muskegon, MI area for four decades. He is a truly great man who has changed many lives, including mine, through his coaching.

2008 Reading Recommendations

Happy New Year! At the end of each of the past three years, I’ve written a post listing the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in order to bring these books to the attention of others. My lists from 2007 and 2006 are available here and here. As usual, I’ve put the titles of the five books most important to me this year in bold, and I’ve linked each book to its Amazon.