Weekly Varia no. 18, 03/18/23

This week was Spring Break. I have never been one for “spring break” trips, both because of personal inclination and financial considerations. But, this year, we used the break for the second trip to bring wedding festivities to our family. Members of both of our families met up in Las Cruses, New Mexico, which we used as a base for exploring the Organ Mountains, White Sands, Mesilla, and other local attractions. I would particularly recommend the Zuhl Collection at New Mexico State University, which contained just a spectacular collection of petrified wood and fossils.

The combination of travel and family meant that my break hasn’t been as restful as I had hoped, but it was restorative in other ways. One of my brothers made it to this trip and I hadn’t seen him since before the pandemic started because the last two planned attempts were both disrupted by COVID. Likewise, we were able to visit friends in El Paso and see their first child who was born last year. Despite having every intention of maintaining a modestly productive routine I mostly spent my downtime at our AirBnB reading such that I finished three books and part of a fourth within the week. I can feel the words starting to burble beneath the surface again, but they’re not ready to burst forth just yet.

Now I’m back in chilly Kirksville. Yesterday I finished grading my outstanding assignments and this weekend I will be spending the time between naps putting the rest of my course materials in order for the coming week. In other words, a pretty normal weekend.

This week’s varia:

  • Judge Kyle Duncan spoke at Stanford where, conservative commentators claim, he was “cancelled” by student protests. Students did protest at the event by asking him pointed questions, but they also settled in to allow him to deliver his prepared responses when he decided to pivot to question and answer and proceeded to berate the students who asked questions. Mark Joseph Stern suggests that this was Duncan’s intent all along, as an audition that would raise his profile onto a short list for the Supreme Court under the next Republican administration. Ken White (Popehat) is disgusted with everyone involved in the incident. I’m inclined to side with him in the sense that responding in kind to deliberate provocation is entirely counter-productive, which is why I have been developing a non-engagement policy on social media.
  • Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell fame has a design column at The Nation. The first installment explores the rise of what she calls “griege” (gray + beige) aesthetic. She argues that it has become the dominant mode because of a confluence of factors, most notably the digital unreality of online realty and that many buyers are looking for an investment and thus are thinking about resale before ever completing the purchase.
  • A home Zillow valued at $417,000 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina fell into the sea last week, leaving a 21-mile long debris trail. This marks the fourth such home in the last 13 months. The effects of climate change are already here.
  • The Biden Administration is pushing for TikTok to be sold or else face a ban in the United states because of its link to the Chinese Government. This story follows the comments from a TikTok spokesperson, but it also came out this week that the company had used the location data of US journalists to try to determine who had been talking to them.
  • Pro Publica has video and a story about the rise of Teneo, a conservative influence group funded by Leonard Leo. I am always struck by the conspiracy-minded nature of these groups, where they justify their own conspiracy by claiming the existence of a preexisting structure among their perceived enemies. Of course their examples rely on faceless archetypes rather than concrete examples because such a conspiracy doesn’t exist.
  • Police departments have not been defunded, but, like in many other sectors, large departments are suffering from staffing shortages. This is leading to departments like that of New Orleans to realize that they need to re-tool their mandate so that they can focus on the worst types of crime and other, less dangerous, responsibilities can be passed to non-police agencies.
  • Federal regulators saw problem after problem at Silicon Valley Bank more than a year ago, but acted too slowly to correct the problems. Embedded in that same story is a note about how SVB grew expansively after the rollback of the Dodd-Frank regulations. Correlation is not necessarily causation, though, and this story implies that existing regulations should have caught the problem. I am still inclined to believe that there were overlapping causes of SVB’s collapse, including regulatory failure, the particular spending practices of venture-capital funded startups, a sudden tightening of the bond market, and the particular makeup of SVB’s depositors that had an unusually-high percentage of very large accounts that made the bank vulnerable to runs.
  • Former President Trump took to social media to say that he expects to be notified of an indictment next week, including in the statement comments to his supports akin to the ones he said on January 6, 2021. The little commentary I’ve seen indicates that this stems from a probe into the Stormy Daniels payoff, but this could well be rampant speculation at this point.
  • The city of Newark performed a ceremony to inaugurate a sister city arrangement with the Hindu nation Kailasa, which doesn’t exist. Kailasa was invented by Swami Nithyananda, an Indian scam artist on the run from rape charges.
  • A Maine resident is appealing a rejected vanity licence plate “LUVTOFU,” saying that he’s a vegan.
  • ChatGPT Starting To Think Journalist Could One Day Be Capable Of Independent Thought (The Onion).

Album of the Week: Jukebox the Ghost, I Got a Girl EP (2022)

Currently Reading: Abdulrazak Gurnah, Afterlives

White Sands National Park
Organ Mountains National Monument
Compressed Iron, from the Zuhl Collection
Pyritized sea life from the Mesozoic era

Weekly Varia no. 17, 03/11/23

This was a big week for me because my first book was officially released. I will have an update on what comes next for my writing soon enough, but, first, I have to get through this semester. This week marked the end of the first half of the spring semester. Flowers are starting to pop up around Kirksville, but I mostly didn’t get to enjoy them because I was busy trying to finish a round of grading so that I had one less thing to do over the next week. I didn’t quite meet my goals because my week filled up with meeting after meeting as everyone tried to squeeze in one more thing before break. Still, I got close enough that I should be able to take a much needed few days off over the next week.

This week’s varia:

  • Pasts Imperfect this week came early to align with Purim. The lead story is Jordan Rosenbaum unpacking the history of Hamantaschen, concluding that the traditional cookie is indeed symbolic, but comes from a different part of the figure of Esther and represents neither Haman nor a hat.
  • Javal Coleman writes in the SCS Blog about being the only Black person in a Classics Department. This is a great piece about belonging and the modern propensity to define black people as outside rather than the ancient tendency for inclusion. I read this when it first came out two weeks ago and meant to include it in a previous wrap-up but failed to do so.
  • Matt Gabriele brings an old blog post to Modern Medieval, in which he critiques the idea of a meaningful distinction between “public” and “academic” scholarship in terms of what we are actually doing (rather than genre conventions and tone). He notes that this is a blog post. from 2015, but is again timely in light of a recent New Yorker story dredging up last year’s controversy about “public history,” which had the former president of the American Historical Association, James Sweet, airing his grievances against trained historians who engage the public online. The piece is not worth linking to, but, like his jeremiads last year in his presidential column in Perspectives, Sweet’s willingness to air his grievances against younger, tenuously-employed generations is a dispiriting omen about the future of the profession given that a) he is hardly the only senior scholar to feel this way, and b) far from confronting the fact that the field is under attack—thus foreclosing an academic home for those people he lamented were simply Tweeting away—it gives more fuel to those people doing the attacking.
  • Bill Caraher weighs in on ChatGPT. I appreciate his willingness to express what he does not know, and see some sense in his suggestion that ChatGPT and similar products might be able to replace remediation for students who understand the material in every way except the writing. I’m not sure I agree in whole, but he’s right that there is a cost for both the student and the teacher when you need to take time doing what is effectively remedial work, and I have often found that campus writing centers are only so helpful when students need this sort of foundational help. He followed it up with a thoughtful post on paywalls, publishing, and AI aggregation.
  • Paul Thomas has a discussion of ChatGPT, but through the lens of citation in the sense that it (and the new I.B. guidelines) has added another layer to the cognitive load that comes with citation. His position here is also rooted in the chaos of trying to teach and unteach nitpicky citation style (rather than hyperlinks, which would only work for some fields, even at a future date), which prompt students to get distracted from the process and meaning of citation in the name of accurate formatting. I’m certainly sympathetic to that frustration.
  • A new study is claiming that there was no exacerbation of mental health crises during the pandemic, which they concluded by excluding from the study lower-income countries or study the effects on younger groups or anyone who was already prone to mental illness. This might be correct within the bounds of the study, but only by generalizing so much that it masks a more accurate representation of what happened. This also might speak to the human capacity for resilience and forgetting. For my part, I’m still waiting for the period of lockdown boredom I was promised.
  • Elon Musk is reportedly planning his own town in Texas. I don’t like giving the man air time, but something about the Wall Street Journal headline (I can’t read the whole part because I’m not a subscriber) touched a nerve. Company towns are not utopias, and we should be very wary of the latest return to a Gilded Age labor environment, alongside…
  • Arkansas became the latest state to facilitate child labor.
  • From NPR, a story about a Medicaid requirement that if a person receiving treatment under the program dies, the state government is supposed to recoup the amount spent from the estate. Some states do this in a pro-forma way and collect almost nothing or set relatively high income thresholds, while states like Iowa contract the task out and aggressively recoup the costs—including by seizing the home. Even with carve-outs for spouses and disabled children that can defer collection, this seems to be an exercise of cruelty in the name of fiscal responsibility.
  • More and more companies are admitting that the recent “emergencies” are excuses to increase prices even when it is not strictly necessary to keep up with rising costs, and prices in these situations tend not to go back down.
  • Silicon Valley Bank, a bank that services many tech startups, collapsed after a panic this week. SVB pursued “Venture Debt,” where provides money for those startups, but the companies were spending much more money than anticipated. Not for nothing, this collapse also follows just a few years after another round of banking deregulation.
  • The BBC has decided not to air and episode from the latest David Attenborough program because it includes themes of environmental destruction and they fear right-wing backlash. Not only is this a travesty, but Attenborough’s work has featured these issues for years, so it isn’t as though this is a new development.
  • RIP Tevye the Milkman.
  • Some Toblerone packaging is going to have to drop the Matterhorn from its packaging because the company is moving part of its production to Slovakia, thus violating Swiss rules on “Swissness.” This AP piece has a neat trivia point, too, that the name is a neologism that blends the founder’s name (Theodor Tobler) with the Italian word for nougat (torrone).

Album of the Week: Moscow Philharmonic, Russian Easter Festival Op. 36 (Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 5 and Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Easter Festival Overture, a.k.a. grading music)

Currently Reading: Dan Saladino, Eating to Extinction; Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (it was a long week of grading)

Hamantaschen two ways: cherry and poppyseed.
Libby in full fighting form (on her back, yelling)

Publication Day

The day has arrived. By which I mean it arrived yesterday, but I was neck deep in grading and trying to avoid Twitter so I missed the publisher’s Tweet.

Not important.

The important thing is that my book has officially been released from the University of Michigan Press. This means that it is available for purchase and also to read as an open access scholarly resource. Academic books usually have short print runs, sell relatively few copies, and represent a deep investment of tens of thousands of dollars over the course of years to produce, even without lucrative contracts for the authors. This is why most publishers require authors to offset the publisher’s cost with grants and research funds in order to have their work appear open-access, and I am immensely grateful to UM Press for offering me the chance to participate in a new initiative to make a larger number of books accessible this way.

If I’m being honest, this day is more than a little intimidating. This book is a substantially revised (and improved) version of my dissertation research that began about a decade ago and that I carried on through both years of underemployment and the pandemic. I still managed to write the book I wanted to write and I am proud of the final product, but the circumstances under which I was writing created hurdles to getting there—on top of the usual anxieties like imposter syndrome. The little voice in my head who worries about how my scholarship will be received is pacing anxiously, slightly muting my excitement at having it out in the world.

But this is a concern for another day. Today, I am celebrating a personal writing milestone, and I hope that my book gives people a lot to think about.

Weekly Varia no. 16, 03/04/23

Every semester in an academic calendar has its own rhythms. Fall starts with energy and excitement created by a lengthier summer hiatus before usually turning into a race to Thanksgiving and a coda that is the final few weeks. Summer is both more frenetic thanks for the shorter terms and more laid back because everyone is working on a smaller number of courses at a time. Spring, by contrast, starts with everyone still not quite recovered from the fall, but is also divided more neatly into two separate arcs, one leading up to the spring break, and one from there to the end of the semester.

I like the shorter arcs of the spring semester in theory. But I have also been reminded again this week, the penultimate before break, that so much of exhaustion, stress, and burnout are bigger systemic problems, which has prompted me to dramatically overhaul the schedule for one of my classes in particular in order to align my expectations, what my students can handle, and the course outcomes. Fortunately, I overbuilt the latter, so I can do almost anything in the back half of the course and still meet every objective.

At the same time, though, I don’t relish the thought of adding this to my to-do list. While I don’t have an obscene number of students this semester (despite two of my classes being mildly over-enrolled), I am already teaching three new courses, with the one that I am now retrofitting mid-flight being the one I had expected to be able to leave on autopilot while I tended to the others. Naturally.

At the same time, I discovered just how many groups I’m involved in decided that we need to squeeze whatever we’re doing in before break, leading to quite a crunch on my time.

Reader, I am tired.

I’ll make it through this week and through the rest of the semester after that, but the feeling of exhaustion that swept over me when I resolved to make these changes reminded me of this piece about John Fetterman, depression, and the requirement for politicians to always be “on.” Despite the reputation that professors are callous, impatient, and disinterested in engaging with students, or perhaps because of it, I saw a parallel in always being on. I might be a dozen anxieties in a trench coat making things up as I go along (an exaggeration on all fronts, but with a hint of truth), but I am supposed to be approachable and welcoming to students, timely in my feedback on student work, prepared with my class material, and present in my classes (though I had a…memorable…professor in undergrad who was frequently absent with no notification), on top of being an expert in the content and a responsible colleague to my coworkers.

This week’s varia:

  • Hannah Čulík-Baird returns to blogging with a post that consists of two fragments, one on fragments as nodes of interconnection both horizontally and vertically and about academic voice. Full disclosure: I get a shout-out in the post as an inspiration for the return based on intermittent, ongoing conversations Hannah and I have had about academic writing and academic voice across multiple social media platforms.
  • Charles Roberts has a blog post pointing out that the issues of student engagement are the consequence of larger structural factors that professors are now being asked to solve without the training or support to do so. He has a note about how dispiriting it is to hear an accreditor devalue the teaching that professors do, which, yes. as I keep saying about ChatGPT, this sort of language is toxic and sets establishes dangerous misunderstandings that I think set students up to fail in the long run.
  • The International Baccalaureate program in the UK is going to allow students to use AI programs if they cite e.g. ChatGPT as a source. This is an unbelievably dumb policy that completely misunderstands what ChatGPT is. The director claims that they created the policy because he thinks it is more valuable for students to learn to critique essays that to learn to do it themselves, which I find is an absurd premise given that doing one at least to a certain level is required to do the other. I’m dreading how decisions like this are going to create headaches for me down the road.
  • Jonathan Wilson writes about the challenges of creating a one-size-fits-all (students and teachers) model for flexible deadlines. I also share his concern about the frequency of students using avoidance as the primary coping strategy for students in distress. In addition to avoidance leading to more avoidance, I often find that it causes work to pile up to the point that it is unmanageable and students will further avoid me because they’re convinced that they have to turn all back work in at once in order to participate in the class and earn my respect—no matter how many times I tell them otherwise and try to help create manageable timelines for getting their missing work in.
  • Given a new round of commentary about campus cancel culture, I saw circulating a Teen Vogue op-ed from 2021 that I missed at the time arguing that colleges and universities are conservative institutions—for many reasons, not the least of which is that the existing fiscal structure of the universities often demands a conservative approach to budgeting and, the larger the endowment, the more the entity functions like a hedge-fund with a vestigial educational institution attached. As a complete tangent, my favorite part of this article is not the content, but the form. This opening paragraph is exactly what I want to see in an introduction. It has a hook, context, and concludes with a clear, coherent thesis that organizes the rest of the piece. A+.
  • From the Vermont Digger: the girl’s basketball team from Mid Vermont Christian School forfeited their game in the state D4 basketball tournament rather than play against Long Trail because the latter team had a trans player. The school also applied to the state to be able to receive public tuition money while being exempted from anti-discrimination regulations. This is an abominable position, but one that is all too common these days. To receive public money, you should have to be in compliance with state rules on issues of discrimination.
  • The Montana state legislature is debating a bill that would ban anyone who received a COVID vaccine from giving blood. Opponents of this bill say that it will lead to an 80% drop in blood donations, thus creating a new public health crisis.
  • A Republican lawmaker in Florida introduced a bill requiring that any blogger or other writer who does stories about the Governor or other executive officials register with the state or face a fine. Just the latest proposal to curtail civil liberties in the name of strangling political opposition coming out of that state.
  • A white-supremacist Lutheran who believes that Hitler went to heaven and views the world in Manichean terms where either you believe in White supremacy and Fascism or you believe in Marxism is trying to gain control of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. This synod is already an extremely conservative denomination, but he wants to turn it into an alt-right organization. I hate it here.
  • Bari Weiss “reported” last month about a whistleblower at a clinic in St. Louis that offers care to transgender teens, ginning up an enormous amount of outrage and potential political action against the clinic. Parents of the patients, the patients themselves, and the clinic are speaking out against the allegations, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After the previous four links, adding this one runs the risk of seeming like I’m beating a dead horse, but…
  • Two trains collided in northern Thessaly (Greece), killing more than 40 people. This is an awful tragedy and critics are pointing out that like the aging infrastructure that caused the crash in East Palestine, Ohio, the train network in Greece is in need of overhaul, even if some of the blame here falls on human error.
  • Pizza acrobatics are a sport. There are competitions, and the Washington Post profiled the 13-time world champion, Tony Gemignani. I’d personally rather eat the pizza.

Album of the week: The Barefoot Movement, “Pressing Onward” (2021)

Currently Reading: Dan Saladino, Eating to Extinction; Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children; Nikolaus Leo Overtoom, Reign of Arrows

Hanging Out

The cover of Shiela Liming’s Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time.

Hanging out is about daring to do nothing much and, even more than that, about daring to do it in the company others….Regardless of the specific occasion, though, or of the amount of planning that has gone into creating it, the objective is the same: it’s about blocking out time and dedicating it to the work of interacting with other people, whoever they might be.

The fight for hanging out is the fight for inclusive access to scenes and places like the ones I have been description. and it starts with recognizing that hanging out at, or around, or in the context of work is, in essence, work.

I started my current job in a world shaped by COVID-19. We had a campus mask mandate, still, and students were coming off more than a year where their educational experience was shaped by trying to keep people separate from one another in the name of limiting disease transmission. One of the most pronounced effects of this caesura was the abandonment of study spaces in academic buildings. Even the library seemed abandoned that year. My building has numerous comfortable chairs and tables in little nooks that never seemed occupied.

By a happy accident, the exception to this general observation took place immediately outside my office where you could usually find several history majors in their final year occupying the four chairs. Sometimes they would be reading or working on papers, but other times they were just there to hang out. I never had any of these students in my class, but I got to know them pretty well and often offered informal mentoring. I liked that their presence made campus feel a little more vibrant—and I could always close my office door if they became too distracting.

Last semester their numbers dwindled to one. As much as I like that one student (another whom I have never had in class), the change me realize how much I missed their presence.

So I started hosting small gatherings.

I bring baked goods and offer them tea. These started as ad hoc affairs on Friday afternoons, that I have now made a standing part of my office hours once a week. There have been weeks recently where I have been too distracted to do much more than offer the food and drink and attendance fluctuates week by week, but there are 6 or 8 regular attendees and I have had several faculty members comment how much they enjoy seeing these gatherings. There is no agenda for these gatherings, nor expectations. Students can grab me for “regular” office hours activities, chat with me informally, read a book, or just hang out with anyone else who shows up. My only objective is to invite students into the building.

If I needed validation for these gatherings, Shiela Liming’s new book Hanging Out is just that.

At its heart, Hanging Out, subtitled The Radical Power of Killing Time, is a manifesto about resisting the encroachment of productivity culture. Rat-race culture is hardly new. Long before the advent of the internet, critics in the late 19th and early 20th century already complained that the pace of life was too fast, as Randall Monroe of XKCD once observed. However, Liming contends that the last twenty or so years have marked a dangerous acceleration of these trends, combined with the rise of media that allows us to simulate connection while simultaneously eliding the realities of physical space. Liming declares, “We were having a hard time hanging out well before COVID-19 came along and made hanging out hard” (xii). Thus, Hanging Out serves as a call to action, to reclaim the power to resist the the forces that grind us to dust.

The seven chapters of Hanging Out each centers a different type of hanging out—at parties, with strangers, jamming, on TV, on the job, at dinner parties, and on the internet—that allow Liming to tell one or more stories connected to her experience in that context. Every chapter is engaging enough, even if you have never, say, become friends and thus hung out with someone whose Food Network show replicates the experience of conviviality for viewers all over the country, or played bagpipe and accordion with not one but two bands in the Pittsburgh-area bands. But in each case, Liming’s broad perspective on hanging out reinforces the central message that hanging out can take place almost anywhere and the willingness to do so has a rejuvenating power.

Compared to the two examples above, Liming’s chapter on hanging out at work struck a particular note with me. This chapter blends two examples, working a bar job somewhere without much else to do and the academic conference. The latter part particularly struck a note with me, as someone who has a love-hate relationship with these events. Conferences are where academics go to present papers, network, and see friends. The share of the pie chart for each varies by the person. These can also be intimidating, isolating venues for young scholars, impossibly priced for contingent faculty, and places where “known creeps” like to turn the space hostile. Liming describes how the worst experience of her conference life spurred her to be more fully present at this conference and to commit to hanging out, those creeps be damned.

Liming describes this hanging out and the experience of rounding up an audience to hear a graduate student talk with a certain panache, but what she describes is not an easy thing to do. These can be big conferences with a bewildering number of famous and important people in your corner of academia, which can easily lead one to travel in your pack, prowling rooms and events to see if you know anyone there—and turning away if you don’t. I have presented to a room with only my panelists for audience members and delivered a paper immediately after a significant portion of the audience walked out of the room, their colleague having presented the paper before mine. I attended my first AIA-SCS conference (the big professional organization in my field) back in 2011, before the latter organization took its current name. While I started to acquire “conference friends” pretty quickly, it was only this year where I felt like I’d reached a critical mass of contacts that it seemed like I knew someone in any room I stepped into, and, even then, I met a ton of new folks or made physical connection with digital friends. However, the fact that I knew this many people made me feel all the more responsible for inviting other people into the space—especially since one of the first-time attendees was one of our undergrads. Because the reality is that hanging out in a space like this is how cross-pollination of ideas works. Nothing might happen over a coffee or drink or at that reception, but it builds out a rolodex that can result in anything from more hanging out, to an introduction to a friend of a friend, to opportunities to collaborate on future ventures.

“Hanging Out on the Internet” was the only chapter where Liming lost me, but only a little bit. She uses this chapter as an extended discussion of the Sublime, which she argues is impossible online because the digital works exists as a purely human creation. Further, she takes issue with “hanging out” online in two ways. First, the digital world creates the illusion of proximity in a way that ironically heightens the absence, while, second, the process of “searching” and curating one’s experience online is antithetical to the (sublime) power of physical chance.

I disagree with none of this.

However, hanging out in the sense that Liming calls for also requires reciprocity. I love physical mail, but a one-sided letter delivery is not much of a correspondence and I have found that the rise of digital technologies have allowed for the rekindling or perpetuation of friendships that started or bloomed in the physical world, but would have otherwise faded. These are not a replacement for friendships or activities in the analog world, but a valuable supplement to them.

The underlying message in Hanging Out is not that different from Oliver Burkemann’s Four Thousand Weeks or Jonathan Malesic’s The End of Burnout, but with a key twist. Where both Burkemann and Malesic focus on work culture, Liming wants us to consider seriously the work involved in not-work.

ΔΔΔ

I have once again fallen way behind on writing about books here, both because I am in the midst of another busy semester and because I haven’t had substantial-enough thoughts to share about a number of the books. For instance, over the last month I have read Archer Mayor’s Bury the Lead and Mick Herron’s Spook Street, both installments in series, as well as Brandon Sanderson’s Tress of the Emerald Sea, which is the first of his “secret” novels he ran a Kickstarter for last year. I might have something to say about Tress, but less as a novel and more about Sanderson’s larger Cosmere project. I also read Fonda Lee’s Jade War, which I didn’t like nearly as much as the first in the series (and not just for second book reasons, though I expect I’ll read the third) and Percival Everett’s Dr. No, which was amusing enough but didn’t elicit a particularly strong reaction from me. Ironically, this is how I feel about a lot of “literary” authors. On the other end of the spectrum, I read Tochi Onyebuchi’s Goliath right as the semester started and while I liked a lot of the ideas I found myself having a hard time engaging with the story, which might have also been a function of my brain space so far this semester. In fact, the only book in my backlog that I know I want to write about is Marissa R. Moss’ Her Country, which is a discussion of country music industry and the recent wave of female artists who took it by storm.

I am currently reading Dan Saladino’s Eating to Extinction an about to start a buddy read of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children with my wife.