You all have helped me think more seriously about several things in 2007 ranging from the profound to the very, very mundane. Highlights include (but are not limited to): academic "fashion" , the nuances of "studenting" (here and here), sublimity, strategies for avoiding alien abduction, how to write a blurb about yourself, sad songs, whether or not racism is rational, and the mystery of our attachment to simulacra. And, of course, there were your absolutely hilarious contributions to the books-NOT-to-give-as-gifts list. To both my surprise and delight, conversations with several of you here on the blog have mirrored in many ways conversations with you in person. I am very grateful to those of you who have remained faithful to those conversations, despite our distance from one another in the "real" world. Thank you.
In the spirit of my series earlier this summer (called The Quotable South), I want to begin the new year with another themed series. I'm borrowing Petya's idea and announcing the start of the "Just Ask" Challenge, beginning in Janunary. It works like this: you ask me a question (in the comment section here) and I will post an entry-long answer to it. Your question doesn't actually have to be "challenging" per se, but I'm going to limit the range of possible-queries by requesting that they not be "personal" ones (like *my* favorite whatever). Instead, I prefer you ask things that might actually spark a conversation, however bizarre or idiosyncratic you may think your question is.
You might be thinking: "What is it that qualifies you, Doctor J, to act the guru here?"
And I say to you: "Why do you hate the people so?"
Or, in the words of Petya: "Sheesh, expertise is overrated!"
I never cease to be amazed at the power of technology to keep us in communication with each other. Here's to continuing the conversations in 2008. It's a small world after all.