Sunday, May 30, 2010


What follows betrays my prejudices to no small degree.

With it being the day before Memorial Day, the typical impulse is to offer up a paean to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. We are called by the very nature of the holiday to pause and reflect at what the sacrifices of others, and the willingness of still others to make sacrifices, on our behalf has purchased. And for those like myself, that purchase has been a hell of a bargain.

I realize that it is not so for all. I realize that barriers to service erected for no reason other than fear of the different still remain in place, though they are greatly weakened now and may soon fall. I am well aware that there remains great inequity in this country, that there are still times when justice does not prevail--or prevails too late to be truly just. I am aware that the men and women in uniform now are men and women like any others--willing to lay down their lives in the service of the greater good as they see it, certainly, but human and subject to flaw and failure.

I realize that the very country which has nurtured me and which many are sworn to serve is similarly a human enterprise, and so is similarly one that can be--and has been--in error. And that error, committed by whosoever errs, needs to be corrected.

But I also realize that the world in which we live is one that contains people who will not listen to reason, who will not put the good of others above their own immediate gain. I realize that there are people who are so destructive that they must be stopped, and so set in their own ways that only physical violence will dissuade their actions.

And I am damned glad that it is not me who has to enact that upon them.

So I do subscribe to the typical impulse in this. I do offer up my thanks to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces.

Even if they err, they are willing, and that is more than can be said for many.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


It occurs to me that there are few, if any, people in the Congress or in the higher levels of the Executive Branch who are not independently wealthy. Without commenting about the effects of a person's socioeconomic status on that person's ideological alignment and possible conflicts of interest, there does seem to me to be something that can be done, in at least a small way, by the well-off public servants in the highest levels of the United States government.

Members of Congress receive well into six figures each, something starting at around $174,000 (this is simple pay, not the other nifty stuff that they get), and rising from there. The President receives $400,000 annually (again, in addition to other stuff), as provided by Public Law 106-58, Sec. 644. And other high-level members of the Executive Branch are compensated commensurately.

Assuming minimum pay for the 535 Members of Congress (100 Senators, 435 House Representatives, excluding delegates) and the stated pay for the President, each year they receive at least ($174,000 x 535) + 400,000 = $93,490,000.

Since the folks in Congress and the White House are pretty well-off already, since they obviously must believe in doing right by the nation, and since they are calling upon the people of the United States to make financial sacrifices, it seems that they could easily give their salaries back to the US.

Admittedly, the approximately $93.5 million that they collectively mimimally make is a small figure when set against the national budget or the national debt. But a lot of people would, I think, take them a lot more seriously and regard them with quite a bit more consideration did they do this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


There has been much talk about the revisions the Texas State Board of Education is making to the curricular standards, some of it here. And I have written a few things about it, namely to the tune that the revisions are ill-advised and detrimental not only to the reputation of the Lone Star State but also to the ability of the children who will attend school in Texas (and in any other state that purchases the Texas editions of textbooks) to have an understanding of the history of their state and country that passes beyond rote recitation.

To be fair, one of the complaints that is leveled at the changes to standards, that they are political in nature, is a bit of a farce. All curricular standards, but particularly those in primary and secondary schools, are political; all of them, because of their application to students still in their formative years, exert a strongly socionormative influence. That is to say that they shape in fundamental, long-lasting ways children's concepts of what is and is not right and true. And as curricular standards decisions are always made by bodies that are in positions of authority, bodies that therefore have agendas and specific viewpoints that they wish to see reflected, they are always political, always ideologically-based, and necessarily exclusive of certain worldviews.


The inclusive ideal of the United States, the one often cited that the country is a "melting pot" of various peoples and cultures, would seem to necessitate that the country forge a composite identity. One of the great strengths of the country is specifically that it incorporates other ideas than those which already exist within it. Doing so, for instance, ultimately allowed the United States to put an end to WWII--the scientists who designed The Bomb were not all or primarily native-born citizens. The language that so many who oppose multi-lingual education espouse is itself an idea incorporated from outside--and it still bears the name of a "foreign" people.

The prevailing cultural norms in the United States do not typically voice themselves in Navajo, after all. And Navajo was instrumental in the deeds of the Greatest Generation, to whose ethics and morals a great many people look back with longing.

To deny the contributions and influences of groups other than the mainstream to and upon the mainstream is academically irresponsible. The documentation exists to denote the truth of the impact non-Anglo populations have had upon the nation; even the very names of many of the cities and states derive from languages and peoples that are not English--including "Texas."

And it is not as though the curricular standards that are currently in effect, those which are being changed, are exclusive of discussion of the mainstream. Indeed, the primary focus in the primary and secondary schools remains on the "dead white guys" that are perceived as being under attack--one of whom is being eliminated from required study despite penning the foundational philosophical document of the United States and serving in its highest offices. "Traditional" history narratives still form the underpinning of curricular standards.

While it is true that certain of the colonies from which the United States grew were founded for specific religious reasons, a certain religious climate did pervade the people of the United States at the time of the nation's founding, and the foundational documents of the country's sociopolitical system do reference a supernatural agency, they AT NO POINT specify that it is a Judeo-Christian idea of God that underlies the law (try to find "Yahweh," "Jehovah," or "Jesus" in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution). Nor is it true that a Judeo-Christian worldview was the only one to which the framers of the Constitution had access; leaving aside the obvious contact with Native American populations which had their own ideas of the other aspects of reality, such people as Jefferson, Franklin, and Washington had access to Classical mythology and long traditions of intercontinental trade that would have facilitated some knowledge of non-Western ideologies.

More to the point, the fundamental tenets of Christianity (defined as adherence to the teachings of Christ)--such things as the charges "That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:39), "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1), "Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again" (Luke 6:30), and the feeding of the multitude for free (John 6:1-11)--are not exactly abundant in the primary law of the United States. (Or in many of its subsidiary laws, except those which are often decried as detrimental to the moral fiber of the country.)

The assertions made that "this is a Christian nation" are not so strong as those who make them would like to believe. It would be untrue to say that Christianity has not and does not continue to exert an influence on the public policy of the nation, but it would be equally untrue to assign to it a role of singular primacy; there were other things going on in the colonies that became the United States and in the lands that the country would come to purchase and conquer. There were other people in the United States than those who did the purchasing and conquering. And to expunge them from the teaching of history would be to deliberately and knowingly perpetuate dishonesty.

And that is hardly the model of Christian teaching--or any acceptable ethical teaching--that we ought to present to our children.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I have struggled with beginning this post.

The reading I have been doing over the past couple of weeks has largely concerned itself with the profession of teaching (in order of increasing specificity, in the humanities, languages, literatures in languages, and English). Much of it laments the perceived lack of faith in or regard for such teaching, and some of it (several articles in Profession 2008, for example) addresses ways in which those lacks can be addressed and possibly rectified.

At the root of discussions of such lacks is this: academic work in the humanities is seen as detrimental to the various sorts of fiber of the United States and, in a larger context, the world. It is seen as destructive to the concept of truth, morally relativistic and therefore permissive and even encouraging of perversity, and regarding as anathema the institutions which allow it to flourish. (This is in addition to the general removal from "reality" in academia at large; those in the sciences, however, get to claim that their work speaks to immediate practical concerns, which insulates them from some of the critiques of irrelevance that those in the humanities suffer.) And there is a motion among a great many people to rein in such tendencies.

Because of my vocation in the academic humanities, I am perforce among the targets of such animosity as I note above. And I am, I think understandably, not entirely pleased that such "rhetoric" as "All academics hate America" gets levied at me.

I was born in the United States and have lived all of my life here. Doing so has afforded me great opportunity, among which has been the chance to be able to pursue my love of English language and literature and to share my love (and hard-won understanding) of it with my students. And that opportunity has been funded, in part, by federal aid programs; I am very much mindful of what I have gained from living in the United States, and I am very much appreciative of it.

But that does not mean that I believe this country which has given rise to me is perfect. It is a human endeavor, and as such, it is subject to error. And why, if I see an error, should I not point it out, that it might be at least examined (acknowledging that it may well be that correcting any individual error causes problems that are worse than the error corrected)? Is it not the purpose of the First Amendment to protect such criticism? And if it is so, can I be faulted for exercising the rights which my own parents enlisted to defend and for the preservation of which soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines continue to fight, suffer, and die?

Is it not an insult to them to not employ and enjoy that which their sacrifices have purchased on behalf of us all?

And the ideas that 1) such examination and critique are somehow "unpatriotic," and 2) that a humanities department--of which English is one--is somehow detrimental to the moral fiber and character of the nation, are fallacious. The United States Military Academy, cited by Forbes as "America's Best College," maintains a department of English and philosophy, and said department has among its stated objectives the intellectual inquiry and examination of cultures other than mainstream American that are so often decried. The United States Naval Academy seems to endorse a similar view, as does the United States Air Force Academy (look for "English").

The United States military views such as necessary to the training of its cadets and midshipmen. And the graduates of the service academies often become the officers at the highest levels of the military, among the most venerated of our citizens. And if they are encouraged--and even required--to take on such inquiry, can we truly say that doing so is un-American?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Below is the text of a letter I sent to my city representative concerning the looming cuts to New York Public Library funding.

Access to information and the ablility to communicate is a necessity if the people of New York City are to exercise the rights to free speech and association guaranteed them by the United States Constitution and the federal, state, and local laws that support it. The New York Public Library, in all of its many local branches, provides that access to a great many of the residents of the city and its surrounding metroplex. And it does much, much more.

For me, it permits access to scholarly materials that are difficult, if not impossible, to come by in other venues. I work in Arthurian literature, and copies of the oldest editions of the texts are not exactly common; it is through the New York Public Library that I can examine them. And without such examination, my decade of work towards earning a PhD would be forcibly ended and the years spent in vain.

I am not the only one in such a situation. New York is not exactly short on colleges, and every student at every one of those colleges--the students who will become the workforce of the city in the future, who will grow into those who operate the many services to make the city as great as it is--profits from having access to the materials of the Library, either in themselves or vicariously through those who teach them.

And aside from those of us engaged in scholarship in various fields, the Library's programs for children, the disadvantaged, and many others offer to many of the members of those groups the only or dominant hope of self-improvement that they have. Cutting funds to the Library will affect them most deeply, denying to them the opoprtunity to fully engage with the culture of New York and denying to the city the talents and skills that they would otherwise be able to develop.

I understand that the current economic situation is strenuous. I understand that there are sacrifices to be made. But I also understand that the library is the embodiment of the knowledge, culture, and perhaps the very soul of the city and its people, and to take away its support demeans us all.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


In something like an hour, I'll be meeting with one of my classes for the first time. I know that this is not the first time the class itself has met, but last week's meeting was preempted by my attendance at the conference. Sonya substituted for me, and she tells me that she did what needed doing (which, for the first week, was to distribute the syllabus and go through the diagnostic exercise I had prepared), which is good. Also good is that the roster has not changed from last week to this, which I put down to my not having been in class for the first meeting and thereby not scaring some of the students--this happens, as many of them tell me.

Today, then, should be a fairly interesting experience. One of the students is a repeat in my class; he has some idea what to expect. But the others, I think, are in for a surprise.

I am not the nicest man in the classroom, after all.

It is not that I go out of my way to be hostile or intimidating (anymore, but we all make mistakes). But I do not go out of my way to be "nice" to the people enrolled in my classes. I treat them with courtesy, yes, because that is the right thing to do. I also tell them that if they do not meet the standards I set for them, then they will not pass the class--and I believe that is also the right thing to do.

And I know that the standards I set (which are as arbitrary as any others, admittedly) are not necessarily easily achieved. But if they were, there would be no incentive on the part of the students to improve. And failing to give them such would be doing them a disservice.

My students are not stupid. They are completely capable of meeting the standards I establish for them--which amount to being able to extract surface and some deeper meanings from mainstream standard edited American English prose and to be able to compose the same. I do not ask for deep theory-driven explications or masterfully poetic diction, but I do require that students be able to summarize a newspaper article and compose coherent short essays. And I do not think that such is unreasonable. Having them do so is, in fact, my job. And if they do not do so, for whatever reason, then I cannot very well say that they have.

Failure in my classes is not a pronouncement that the students cannot do a thing, but is rather one that they have not done that thing. And most of those who fail my classes do so for the simple reason that they do not show up and do the work assigned.

It is an appropriate consequence.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


As my CV indicates, I have some experience presenting at conferences. Since 2006, I have attended one or two conferences each year, and I do not attend if I am not going to present. But never before this past weekend had I given a paper at so large or important a conference as the International Congress on Medieval Studies. And as I approached the event, I found myself quite nervous.

I attended a fair number of panels during the conference. The first, "Philosophical Themes and Issues in Malory's Morte Darthur," initially helped to calm down my nervousness. The panelists gave fine papers, but not so brilliant that I had no hope of matching them, or that I would embarrass myself against them.

The second panel, "Taking the Adventure in Malory's Morte Darthur," gave me a similar impression. The research was good, as were the papers, and I realized that my own work would not be so far behind them as to be unacceptable.

But the third panel, "Food and Drink in the Arthurian Tradition," was a doozy. I well understand that the presenters have been in the field for some time, and so it is entirely sensible that they know quite a bit more than I. But the extent of their command of the material was intimidating, as was the force of their personalities. They were not rude in any way, not dismissive or haughty, but I found myself entirely out of my depth with them.

Fortunately, the fourth panel I attended, "The Young(er) King Arthur," eased me a bit. Problems with multimedia capacities and reminders of just how much the 80s have to answer for served to bring to mind the truth that we all have off days.

It is also true that it is easier to deal with such off days when there are a number of good days behind them.

My own presentation helped me to have such a good day. The society whose session I presented in seems to run a bit light on literary work, concentrating on historical and archaeological, and so my presentation on Castiglione went over well. The audience was engaged and asked a number of fine questions. And the fairly senior professor with whom I was on the panel asked me for my bibliography, which I found quite flattering.

I shall, of course, be sending it right along.

In addition to the excellent panels I attended, I was lucky enough to get to go to a number of non-panel events. Among them was a Spenserian dinner, to which I was invited by one of my professors. The Spenserians were welcoming and jocund, displaying a sense of humor that I appreciated.

And such a sense of humor seems to be a salient feature of the conference as a whole. A number of the academic gatherings I have attended have been dry, stodgy affairs. Admittedly, academia requires seriousness, but gravity does not mean being abstemious of joy.

Joy in the work ought to be at the root of it; the other compensations offered are not sufficient to support those who do not find happiness in doing this thing called scholarship. And the joy should be evident in the work, a joy all too often lacking but out in force at the International Congress on Medieval Studies.

That, as much as anything else, will bring me back to the conference. Kalamazoo is a nice town, the conference itself important for my career, and the sessions illuminating, but it is the joy that the scholars there show that invites me to go again.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I am back home from the conference. I have a write-up ready to go, but at the moment, I am tired from the travel and so I am going to go to bed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I leave for Kalamazoo, Michigan, tomorrow, there to participate in the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies. I do look forward to the event, though I must confess to being a bit nervous about it. After all, it is one of the largest gatherings of scholars in my field, if not the largest.

I will be missing a couple of days of work to do so, which is a bit of an annoyance; I could use the money. But this conference is pretty important. Too, I've already paid for it.

There seems to be a lot to do at the event. I am sure that it will be exciting. But I remain nervous about it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I suppose I ought to begin with the obvious: Happy Mothers' Day! And before you get on me about doing something else, all of the people my wife and I need to call about it are in another time zone; it's a little early to be on the phone with them, yet.

It is not too early, though, to say "Thanks" to them for the mothering they've done. Sonya, of course, was a model child, but I know for a fact that I was a pain in the ass to raise.

Now, I'm just a pain in the ass, having already been raised.

And now, more regularly for my Sunday notes:

Classes at TCI started up again this past Thursday. My schedule is such that I have no classes on that day (not that I have class at any time), and only teach the one on Friday. Of course, that one is a five-hour block in the evening, but every semester at TCI has had me doing so; it's a bit old-hat anymore. And the first class meeting went pretty well. Some twenty-one of the thirty-three students that were enrolled showed up, which is not terribly bad for a first class meeting. I do not know if that number will improve, or if adding any more students to the room--where the class is English Composition I--counts as improvement. But the pay is good and the students do more or less well, so I'll not complain too much.

My summer schedule allows me to have a three-day weekend every weekend--except when it's longer due to class re-scheduling. It will be nice to have such a thing, actually; I should be able to get a lot more reading and writing done. And since I have a paper coming up for SCMLA, in addition to the continued work on the dissertation, I have more than enough of both to keep me happy and productive for a long time.

Often, being productive helps me to be happy. Whether because of "grad-school guilt" or an earlier-seated work ethic, I find it difficult to be pleased with myself when I do not spend my day doing things that leave some visible result, whether that is pages of paper written or, say, new fencing put up in the backyard (I am still happy with my work on that). It is not impossible, certainly; I enjoy the bejeezus out of aikido, and that does not always leave a visible result (unlike judo, where the bruises tend to prove it). Same with reading (aside from the occasional papercut).

I gather that such is a common feeling among those in my line of work at around my level in it. A number of my wife's colleagues share it. I have less contact with my own colleagues than I would like, so I cannot verify how it is with them, but from what I remember (particularly about finals weeks), it was so.

Hm. I probably ought to get back to work now.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


In "Deep-sea Ice Crystals Stymie Gulf Oil Leak Fix," Sarah Larmier and Harry R. Weber of the Associated Press quote BP COO Doug Suttles as saying that he "wouldn't say [the attempt to cap the leaking oil well]'s failed yet," only that "what we [BP] attempted to do last night didn't work."

The Oxford English Dictionary Online gives as one definition of the verb "to fail" the follwing: "4.a. To prove deficient upon trial." Which means "doesn't work when it gets attempted."

So, Mr. Suttles, you wouldn't say it failed, only that it failed?

Thursday, May 6, 2010


That I have been a bit slothful in my reading should be evident from the fact that I only today cracked open my copy of the Modern Language Association's Profession 2009. I am not through with it yet, but I have already found an article in it that piqued my interest: Mark Edmundson's "Against Readings."

I take issue with some comments Edmundson makes in the article, namely in the following paragraph:
But primary socialization doesn't work for everyone. There are always people--how many it's tough to know, but surely a minority--who don't see their own natures fully reflected in the values that they're supposed to inherit or assume. They feel out of joint with their times. The gay kid grows up in a family that thinks homosexuality is a sin. The young guy with a potent individualistic streak can't bear the drippy collectivism foisted on him by his ex-hippie parents and his purportedly progressive school. The girl who is supposed to be a chip off the old legal block and sit some day on the court only wants to draw and paint. The guy destined (in his mom's heart) for Princeton is born to be a carpenter and has no real worldly ambitions, no matter how often he's upbraided. (57)

Two things in particular attract my attention in this. The first is the assertion that only a minority fail to see themselves "fully reflected" by the prevailing sociocultural mores promulgated by mainstream media and most public education; I think this false. The "values [kids] are supposed to inherit or assume" (57) are in large part derived from romanticized notions of what it means to be "American,"* which typically means "white, Anglo-Saxon-derived, Protestant, middle-class, suburban American." Despite popular portrayal, such a population is not a majority (US Census Bureau), and even within that group (to which I belong, with all the problems that entails), there are a number of people who are aware of their non-conformity to the standards advanced--as evidenced, among other things, by the prevalence of eating disorders and the increasingly-reported separation of youth populations into distinct, often mutually hostile, sub-cultural groups. People abuse themselves and one another in attempts to "fit in," an abuse systematic and prevalent such that it is not "surely a minority" as Edmundson avers (57); those who already belong, or feel that they do, do not work to "fit in."

The second thing I noted, and with which I disagree, is the final sentence in the paragraph. My objection to this is purely anecdotal, and betrays in no small part my own familial structure and concern. And it is this: since when is a desire to work in a building trade not among the approved list of "real worldly ambitions" for people to have? The disdain for skilled manual labor implied in the comment speaks to at least part of the reason that such salt-of-the-earth people as fill my family look upon academics (such as myself) a bit askance; there is a perception that those of us who work in scholarly disciplines look down upon those who work with their hands--and it is one that is, in all too many cases, true. It is not surprising that a group perceived as dismissive of another group should be held in low esteem by that other group.

But even with my objections in place, the thrust of Edmundson's article, that "we need to befriend the texts that we choose to teach" (63), is spot on. I agree with him in his assertion that those of us who deal with the criticism and interpretation of text (at varying degrees of professionalism and proficiency, admittedly) tend to stray so far into abstract, arcane intellectual ideas of how texts work and what functions they perform that we lose sight of the immediate effects they often have, not just on the "untutored" or "casual" reader, but on the very people who study them so assiduously (us). How many of those of us who entered into literary study did not do so because we love reading? And how many of us who love reading love it for how it makes us feel, what it allows our minds to do?

Edmundson is correct in noting that those who teach literature "set the scene for secular conversion" (60). The modern university is an outgrowth of the monastery, and though it has come to be seen as a bastion of anti-religious thought and ideology, it retains at its core the study of the inner being of humanity. There is a great need to understand the physical realities of our existence, and so the sciences need to be taught and studied. But there is as great a need to understand that which makes us human, that which proceeds from our humanity and which is the exemplification of it, and it is in the attaining of such understanding that those of us whose work is in the humanities must remain grounded. At root, we are here to figure out what it is that we are, and the conversion experience that Edmundson describes is one tool among many that helps us to learn it.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon us to aid others in discovering their own experiences of understanding, their own instances of the "golden moment" of the realization of commonality and community (Edmundson 58). And that means that we cannot reject the personal, gut-level reaction. We cannot rely entirely upon it, certainly, and there is much to be said in favor of the application of outside ideas to a text (Lord knows I do so often enough), but Edmundson is right: "it all begins by befriending the text" (64).

My own teaching experience bears this out. The experiences of most of my students have been greatly divergent from my own; I am lucky enough to have been raised in a household that assigns prime importance to education (and I know that saying so makes me sound like the child of privilege that I in many ways am), and I know that a great many of those who have sat in my classrooms have not been fortunate in that particular way. Even so, I believe--because they have told me after they were no longer enrolled in my classes--that a number of my students have come to appreciate the written word more or differently than they had before sitting in my class, and that they came to do so as a result of my own enthusiasm for the texts I discussed and the materials I taught. In short, because I befriended the text (to use Edmundson's term), I showed the students that such a thing could be done, and in my teaching I explicitly (and repeatedly) invite them to do the same.

This is at variance with the way many of them have been taught--and even the way that I was, in many cases. All too often, the classroom instructor--at whatever level--does not engage with the text at a personal level. And while, again, I believe in the value of a systematic, scholarly approach to text, students quickly become bored with and disinterested in (and even hostile towards) such teaching. Because it does not even acknowledge the possibility of simple human impact, it tacitly rejects that possibility. And in rejecting the humane, it closes off what is, at least at first, the only entree into the reading that students reliably have.

The works we teach are, as Edmundson notes, "the testaments of human beings who have lived and suffered in the world. They too deserve honor and respect" (63), and we can show them that respect by affirming their humanity--and ours, which is shown in so doing--in their impact upon us, personally. And while the approach may not work for everyone (not that any do), it certainly cannot hurt.

*I am aware that Edmundson does not specifically restrict his argument to persons growing up in the United States of America. I make the inference that he does so based on his employment by the University of Virginia, his specific reference to his own childhood "growing up outside Boston" (58), and the Americo-centrism of the MLA. Then again, I am Americo-centrist, so I'm not complaining much, but full disclosure and all that...

Works Cited
Edmundson, Mark. "Against Readings." Profession 2009 (2009): 56-65. Print.
US Census Bureau. American FactFinder. US Census Bureau, n.d. Web. May 6, 2010.


I hope that everyone had a good day yesterday and is able to get back to work with vigor and adroitness. Fortunately for me, I don't have to go in until tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Lest I forget:

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Or something like that--it's been a while since I studied Spanish.


I am playing around with settings at this point. There is nothing to see here. These are not the droids you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


It occurs to me that at least one of the blog-like things I have maintained for some time actually ought to be on a "real" blog again. Hence, this. My regular Sunday updates will start appearing here.

Oh, also, the old updates are here.