Sasha Patkin/Pexels/Pixabay/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives

Sometimes the present sounds like the future. It’s the year 2021 and we’ve landed on Mars. Climate Clocks hanging above cities around the world tick down the time left for humanity to enact transformational changes to avoid raising the global temperature past the point of no return — a deadline less than seven years in the future. …

There is something seriously wrong with this image, but it’s not the fact that it’s upside-down. In fact, you probably won’t be able to tell what it is.

Our sense of sight is generally considered to be the most developed of our senses — some estimates suggest that 85 percent of the information we take in about the world arrives to us through our visual system — but the human eye is also more likely to be deceived than any other sense.

For example, see what happens when we turn the image rightside-up:

In the age of jet planes, 200 mph bullet trains, and proposed 800 mph Hyperloops, what would compel anyone to take a 50-hour train ride through the flattest part of America?

This is exactly what my friends and family asked me as I set out on my journey on “The Empire Builder” — the Amtrak route that begins in Chicago and runs through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington before finally splitting into two and ending up in either Portland or Seattle.

“What are you going to do for 50 hours?” …

An argument for bridging the personal with the academic and incorporating new literacies into the writing classroom.

Image by Sasha Patkin

On a lazy afternoon during the summer before college, I found myself lounging in a friend’s room as she strummed out a few songs on her guitar. She had a poster of chords hung on her wall; finger positions charted out and labelled with names. Music made physical. I studied it. “If I learned all the chords, would I know how to play guitar?” I asked her. “No,” she laughed, pausing her song. “You’d know a bunch of chords.”

Even though I am…

Sasha Patkin

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