Tag Archives: English

Breaking Blog Records

Yesterday became my blog’s record day for highest number of hits in its mere three-month history. The 128 hits from yesterday made me very proud of this blog. It brough my total hits to a grand 2,031.

The previous record-holding number of hits in one day was 73. I’m not sure what made my numbers jump to almost double, but I’m pleased, to say the least!

Thanks to everyone who follows and checks in to the blog!

WWW

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“Twitter in Congress, With the Accent on Twit”

This is a really interesting article by Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English at Emory University. For those who don’t know what Twitter is, you might be a little lost.

Essentially, Twitter is a real time internet tool that allows users to let their “followers” (or people who subscribe to their Twitter profile) what they’re doing. This is also called “updating a status” or “tweeting.” Many use it just to keep connected with friends; however, writers, politicians, and the like are using it to let followers know up-to-date news, when blogs have been updated, etc. So yes, this is the context for the following article.

President Obama’s address this week turned out one of the biggest viewing audiences ever for a chief executive’s visit to the chamber. But while people at home were admiring Obama’s delivery and accepting or rejecting his statements, some in the seats in front of him were doing something else.

Here’s the story by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. Several members of the House and Senate came to the occasion equipped with real time digital tools, and before and during the speech, they sent out “content,” what they saw and heard and judged. Or, as Milbank puts it, “They whipped out their BlackBerrys and began sending text messages like high school kids bored in math class.”

Some of their broadcasts:

“‘One doesn’t want to sound snarky, but it is nice not to see Cheney up there,’ Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced as Obama entered the chamber.‘I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg,’ Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) broadcast, misspelling the name of the ailing Supreme Court justice. McCaskill could be seen applauding with BlackBerry in one hand.

‘Capt Sully is here — awesome!’ announced Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.), spotting the US Airways pilot in the gallery.

Then there was Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), in whose name this text message was sent at about the time the president spoke of the need to pull the country together: ‘Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour.’ A few minutes later, another message came through: ‘Disregard that last Tweet from a staffer.’”

Culberson provided a live streaming video, and before the event approached some Capital Police and asked them to name themselves. Others gave minute remarks about where they were sitting and who sat nearby. More dispatches: “We must stand our ground as conservatives”; “Not many applause lines. Some in the audience not sure how to react”; “Americans are not quitters — Amen — what a great story.”

If this is the mindset of our representatives, we need an administered dose of Mark Twain, who said: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

And: “Congressman is the trivialist distinction for a full grown man.”

And: “All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.”

Indeed, a representative with a live-action tool in hand may be the clearest expression of a vital principle of communication: The faster people can record their experience, the stupider it gets. We hear a lot about infantilization, but this is “adolescentilization,” and it reaches all the way to the top. With everyone so equipped, we’ll never see another Webster, Clay, Taft, LBJ, Moynihan . . .

(Source: Chronicle.com)

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Doubt and Immobility

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

From the novel, Life of Pi. A terrific read, and an interesting quote to consider.

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Dr. Shirley McKellar Speaks to St. Ed’s Students

This article was originally written for the Hilltop Views.

A group of roughly thirty-five individuals filled a room on the third floor of Fleck Hall this past Thursday, February 5, to listen to Dr. Shirley McKellar, the founder and chief executive officer of her own company, a retired major who served overseas during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom,” and a motivational speaker for breast cancer and women’s issues.

The kind-looking, African-American woman stood from her seat in the
front row of the room and gracefully made her way to the podium. After
carefully adjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose, McKellar began her lecture, “Good evening, St. Edward’s University.”

McKellar (left) and her sister at a political rally

McKellar (left) and her sister at a political rally

“I want to challenge you tonight to do five things. First, listen carefully. Second, understand what is being said. Third, believe in yourself, because how else do you expect anyone else to believe in you? Fourth, retain what I say to you. Fifth and last, please act on whatever your passion is in life.”

McKellar delved right into her motivational talk on education and  leadership. Her personal apothegm, “Reach one, teach one,” was the underlying theme of her presentation, “Unfettered Potential: Military
Success and Women’s Health.” McKellar passionately spoke of the importance of education in today’s world in the shaping of leaders. She stressed that we must share our wisdom with others if we want to instill change nationally and internationally.

“Why should you have knowledge if you won’t share it with others?” McKellar asked the audience.

McKellar spoke of how her experiences in school and in the military —both the good and bad experiences—shaped the natural-born leader in her. She reflected on the monumental day in 1975 that Congress broke down walls for women in the military, and that a mere five years later, 217 women cadets graduated from West Point in Annapolis.

However, McKellar also recalled the discrimination in the military she experienced for being an educated African-American woman. McKellar, who had stood at the podium with the utmost dignity and poise the entire evening, shook her head sadly when she called to mind her stint at Tyler Junior College, where her professor had two exams—one version for white students and another for African-American students. She looked back up at the audience afterwards, and she said she had decided then that she would not allow anyone to make her feel less capable than she knew she was. Decades later, McKellar now sponsors grade-school trips to Tyler Junior College to encourage young girls to pursue math and science. “We can’t let these young girls feel intimidated.”

McKellar brought the evening to a close by emphasizing the importance
of education. “If you have nothing to do or say, read!” McKellar’s diagnosis for what she calls the world’s “education deficient syndrome” is “a dose of math and science, a helping of standard English, a mental health day or two, and lots and lots of sleep.”

As the audience applauded at the end of the lecture, McKellar quickly spoke into the microphone once more, “Students, if a door closes in your face, unlock a window.”

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Face Turned Grey from Spitting Stones

The following poem is by a skilled, creative writer by the name of Shayne Bates. I’m really impressed with what he’s done with this. Let me know what you guys think as well.

and crack and crack
and whistle pop
and off he goes and off he flies
a lupine beast in man disguise
stairway teeth with trees for eyes
a wretched ghost of woman’s cries.
and on he boast and off he drags,
skittering claws to molten crags
and we watch those diamond forests burn.

and hum and drum
and engine whir
and on he lulls and on he drones
a deadened bore of serpent moans
face turned grey from spitting stones
he cuts our eyes with ringing tones.
and on he crawls and on he sings
clamoring bells and demon strings,
and he lets those fiery lungs go hollow.

Oak Tree

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“If It Moves to Music, I’m in Love”

“Theoretically, I am ready to go to anything– once. If it moves, I’m interested; if it moves to music, I’m in love.” -Arlene Croce

Arlene Croce, formerly a dance critic for twenty-five years at the “New Yorker,” makes her love of the arts and, especially, dance clear in the anthology “Writing in the Dark, Dancing in the “New Yorker.'”

“Writing in the Dark” covers Croce’s long reviews of performances from the time she started at the “New Yorker” in 1973 until she left in 1998.

Croce’s work covers a topic about which very few have real, substantial knowledge; however, her reviews are just as informational as they are critical. Going into “Writing in the Dark,” I assumed that Croce would frequently use dance jargon and refer to performaces about which I did not know. I found myself, to my suprise, thoroughly enjoying Croce’s reviews of dance performaces and even learning a thing or two about this lovely art form.

Croce’s word choice is exemplary; it conveys the kinesthetic movements of the dancers, the underlying themes of the performances, and the powerful vitality of the music. “Writing in the Dark” is 745 pages of vivid description and sharp criticism, making it a wonderful read.

Ballet

The only criticism of Croce–for whom I have tremendous respect since reading her work– is in her 1994 review entitled “Discussing the Undiscussable.” The performance in question was Bill T. Jones‘ “Still/Here,” where Jones presented people who were terminally ill and proceeded to talk about it (Jones himself has AIDS). Croce stated that she had no intent on reviewing it, the reason being that Croce felt the performance was “pity art.” Croce wrote that by working dying people into his act, Jones put himself beyond the reach of criticism. She continued to defend her decision not to review the perforance which she dubbed unreviewable. I absolutely respect her decision and support her right to make such a choice. I only criticize Croce for this for the reason that a “New Yorker” writer has a certain authority and voice. When she wrote this controversial piece, it could have seriously cost her her reputation. Nonetheless, Croce wrote what she did and that is simply that. Read an excerpt of the review here.

Arlene Croce’s reviews, especially those published in “Writing in the Dark, Dancing in the “New Yorker,'” are as close to an acclaimed dance performance as you can get. Her writing style, as well as her knowledge and love of dance, makes for tremendous reviews.

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Junior Year of College: Part II

The second half of my junior year of college begins today at noon.  Let us take a moment to pray to the grade gods that this year does not end in my ruin.  [Insert reverent pause here.]BooksI decided to take a masochistic route this semester by taking on a multitude of courses, work hours, and extracurricular activities.  This includes six courses (two of them being evening classes), working as an office assistant for the School of Humanities at my college, proofreading for the university newspaper, editing for the university academic journal, and making time to study, eat, sleep, and walk my dog.  I see the potential for a terrific debacle sometime in the near future.*

In all honesty, the challenge excites me.  You see, I’m one of those people who claim that procrastination and a loaded schedule offers a rousing sense of pressure to their lives (although, I feel that this is becoming a pretty weak rationalization).

In other news, I think I’m going to take on the challenge of writing a post about my disdain for the absence of terminating commas in the AP style format.  I know, I know… riveting stuff.

* Thanks to Kate for reminding me that the word “debacle,” exists.

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