November 2015 Calendar - *November 5: Eastern Idaho Technical College Merit Badge Pow-Wow. Meet at the church at 6:30. We will be at EITC from 7-9 pm. WEAR YOUR SCOUT SHIRT, as a...
1 year ago
Perhaps journalists, in their desire to be neutral, sometimes avoid detailed and complex policy issues because such issues might require them to make conclusions that might benefit one party or another, undercutting their neutrality.He also links to an excellent essay by scholar Jay Rosen, who writes along similar lines:
The quest for innocence in political journalism means the desire to be manifestly agenda-less and thus “prove” in the way you describe things that journalism is not an ideological trade. But this can get in the way of describing things! He said, she said journalism doesn’t tell us who’s distorting the picture more. It is neutral on where the reality is, but reality is not something journalists can afford to be neutral about!I don’t pretend to be a journalist. I don’t pretend to be a fast learner. I know far more now – I hope – about good writing than I did five and a half years ago when I left journalism ass-first. I don’t miss it, because I’ve found other outlets for my writing that are much more enjoyable. As I look back on my life I see a lot of things that I would do differently if only I’d had the experience and hindsight then that I have now. Perhaps that’s why we get second chances to do so many things in our lives, to reinvent ourselves.
At Heritage or [Center for American Progress], on the other hand, I learn about issues with a depth and clarity that I can’t find in traditional journalism — all with no more mouse clicks than I need to read ABC. They are trying to persuade me.So maybe that’s good writing: Writing that helps someone learn something. Though that something has to be more than what Krusty the Klown said kids learned from watching “Itchy and Scratchy”:
Does it change the value of the information just because these organizations are not independent? No. As a consumer, I am smart enough to understand bias and to sort through it. I certainly don't agree with everything on these blogs.
Heritage Foundation, however, has my trust because of its commitment to accuracy and because I learn something by reading their information.
Godwin's law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 that has become an Internet adage. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches (100%)." In other words, Godwin put forth the hyperbolic observation that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis.Yessir, it would be pretty easy to pick through Schoenbaum’s work to Godwin Obama or the Tea Party or, really, anyone you wanted to Godwin. It’s a gold mine for Godwinners. I provide no examples, of course, because the comparisons and analogies are at best superficial and at worst historically incorrect because to imply a 1:1 ratio of Nazis to either the Tea Party or Change We Can Believe In neglects critical historical, societal, and political context that would make the comparisons silly if held in context.
As a result of their lifelong immersion in electronic media, young people's brains are "wired differently," and they require different schools, different workplaces, and different social arrangements from the ones we have. They are described, with more than a little envy, as "digital natives," effortlessly at home in an electronic universe, while we adults are "digital immigrants," benighted arrivals from the Old World doomed to stutter in a foreign tongue.It seems, however, that digital natives are also doing some stuttering of their own. A recent Illinois study says while digital natives turn exclusively to the Internet for research and homework help, they’re not as adept at using the technology in which they’re immersed as those who love technology as much as Kip Dynamite says they do:
Duke and Asher said they were surprised by “the extent to which students appeared to lack even some of the most basic information literacy skills that we assumed they would have mastered in high school.” Even students who were high achievers in high school suffered from these deficiencies, Asher told Inside Higher Ed in an interview.I’ve seen this phenomenon among the students I teach at BYU-Idaho. That’s going to inspire me to work harder to introduce them to better research techniques and to become a better researcher myself as I work on my own pursuits. (That’s a criticism brought up in the study as well; teachers themselves, the study says, aren’t much better at online searches than their students.)
In other words: Today’s college students might have grown up with the language of the information age, but they do not necessarily know the grammar.
“I think it really exploded this myth of the ‘digital native,’ ” Asher said. “Just because you’ve grown up searching things in Google doesn’t mean you know how to use Google as a good research tool.”
I would argue that the internet stands alone as far as technological innovations. While the telegraph certainly gave humanity the sense of instant communication (and all that entails) and television began the thinking of a world community amongst the populace at large, the internet, unlike the telegraph or television, carries the seeds of its own growth. The internet is constantly changing and evolving, be it through ISP's, browsers, websites, social networks, email clients, smart phone apps, or whatever else may come. In just ten years, we've moved from news online being a novelty to the internet crushing newspapers. We've gone from most people being confused by "SMS messaging" to Skype. The internet has left the bedroom and the library and is moving, constantly with us. How long did it take for WiFi to emerge in nearly every office building? How many places in America can you wander around and not see at least some WiFi networks? Why can I check Facebook while driving a Chevy Cruze? These changes seem small, but the speed at which they're being adopted and then instantly made obsolete makes the internet special apart from other, similar technological waves.He and many others just don’t know their history. Radio and television, in their own ways, also carried the seed of their own growth, as did newspapers, the telegraph, and books before them. Mass printing of books brought both the written word to more people than ever before, but also opened up the world of publishing to more people who never before had much of a chance of seeing their thoughts in print and distributed in bulk form. Radio followed us from the massive hunks of vacuum tubes and wood in our living rooms to the far more compact models that were at first novelties in our cars and then became ubiquitous standard equipment. The popular phenomenon that was the Amos ‘n’ Andy radio show brought movie theaters to make their screens go blank and pump the show in via the radio so their customers wouldn’t leave when the show came on. Before we praise the ubiquity of wi-fi networks, we ought to remember the ubiquity of the newsstand, the jukebox, the radio and television signal. Television inspired the TV dinner, for heaven’s sake. Each of those technologies were heralded as world-changers in their day and they were world changers in a way, but the world has this crazy method of subsuming change and making it change the way it wants until the next arfhebung comes along and the novelty of Internet mobility is as expected and as standardized as television.
In downtown Baltimore, the quake sent office workers into the streets, where lamp posts swayed slightly as they called family and friends to check in.I hope those lampposts and their families are A-OK.
[I]f you don’t say what you mean, your reader will say it for you, willy-nilly. When I see an incoherent film I usually complain about its incoherence. That surprises my friends, who proceed to explain to me what isn’t in the script. They write their own stories to fill in what’s missing. Hollywood, with its contempt for the people who make it rich, expects no less of us: ya got spectacle, ya got stars, ya want coherence? Filling in gaps is the way our facile brains work. There’s a blind spot in the eye, but you’ll never see it unless you make special arrangements to look – the brain fills it in. Give people random sequences of numbers or other symbols and they’ll usually find a pattern that isn’t there. But you don’t want people to write their stories into your work, to find patterns that aren’t there. You want people to find your stories, to find the patterns you designed.These are my stories I’m writing. Mine. Mine. Mine. Writers are egomaniacs, Rhodes insists, and I tend to believe him. We want to tell our stories and have people enjoy them, but we want them to be our stories. Our own. To do that, he says, and to get away with it through editors and other makers of filters and tinkerers of words, we have to concentrate on filling in those gaps so that at every turn, the story is ours, not the readers. Paul Theroux and JRR Tolkien, I believe, embody this writing religion – they leave no gaps in their stories. Reading Theroux’s “The Mosquito Coast” leaves the reader with no room for wiggling – as does Peter Weir’s film treatment of the book. Watch Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films and you see how Jackson and company leave things too open. Tolkien does not. The stories are his, and his alone. He maintained they were undramatizable to his death, for that very reason.
Understanding writing as the production of virtual realities clarifies why teaking care with craft is so important. There are at least as many elements to manipulate in writing, to get the reality right, as a movie crew has to deal with in shooting a film (in fact, there are many more): dialogue, plot, character development, makeup, lighting, sets, props, camera angles, and montage just for starters (D.W. Griffith, the pioneering filmmaker, said he learned montage by reading Charles Dickens.) Behind those theatrical and cinematographic elements you have to organize words in all their palimpsestal complexity, sentence, rhythm, and structure at every scale from phrase to sentence to paragraph to chapter to book. (Words and sentences are the machine language of writing, if you will; the elements that writing shares with theater and film are already part of the shell program you create.) And you’re only one person, not a whole crew. That sounds like a discouraging burden to bear. It can be when you’re not getting the results you want, but fortunately you don’t have to create and control everything at once: writers develop multiple drafts of a text because they organize the elements of writing successively rather than simultaneously. Fortunately also, the inherent richness and complexity of the writing process makes it continually interesting, far more challenging to attempt and satisfying to achieve than chess or any other game.So there’s the practice Buddy Green implies, spelled out for the writer. There’s the care for the craft. There’s the order, explicit, to write (Rhodes discusses earlier applying “ass to chair” and just writing, not fretting about the elements of style and structure) and then to rewrite.
If I say General Branch might have gone too far, you can imagine. He decided to transplant the Sierra golden trout into the mountain streams of New Mexico. And he had cooked up his scheme with pals in the New Mexico Fish and Game Department. He authorized Andy to fly up to New Mexico in a four-engine C-130 cargo airplane used to transport troops and vehicles to pick up his pals in their four-wheel drive that carried special oxygenated containers to hold the golden trout. The trip probably violated half a dozen Air Force, federal, and state regulations; but a general is a general, and we were ordered into action.Yah. Our tax dollars at work here, folks. High military brass flouting the law. Whee.
His new assignment was safety director of the Air Force, which made him, in effect, the only general officer who was allowed to pilot an airplane. Of course, like all generals, he had to have a pilot along with him, but Yeager never in his life sat in the second seat. He argued with the Pentagon,” Look, how in the hell can I be in charge of Air Force safety if I can’t fly airplanes myself to see if they are safe?” So, he was the exception to the rule and loved every minute of it.I put up with asinine rules where I work. But that’s the difference: I put up with them. I don’t look for ways to get around them.
This is General Power speaking. I am addressing you for the purpose of reemphasizing the seriousness for the situation the nation faces. We are in an advanced state of readiness to meet any emergencies and I feel that we are well prepared. I expect each of you to maintain strict security and use calm judgment during this tense period. Our plans are well prepared and are being executed smoothly . . . Review your plans for further action to insure that there will be no mistakes or confusion . . .Yeah, that's Gen. Jack D. Ripper speaking.
George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying?” he said to Hazel, watching her wipe her tears.There's the conclusion to Kurt Vonnegut's stellar short story "Harrison Bergeron," which I first read as a kid because some highly intelligent person included it in the reader we used in fifth grade. I think it was fifth grade. It might have been third. I had the first, third and fifth grades in the same classroom at Lincoln Elementary. Of course back then I didn't recognize the name of the author, but in stumbling across the story again and realizing who the author is now makes it significant. If you've never read the story, I highly recommend it. It's a good 'un.
“Yup,” she said.
“What about?” he said.
“I forgot,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”
“What was it?” he said.
“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.
“Forget sad things,” said George.
“I always do,” said Hazel.
“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a riveting gun in his head.
“Gee — I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.
“You can say that again,” said George.
“Gee —” said Hazel — “I could tell that one was a doozy.”