It’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers. – Mario Cuomo, 1984 DNC RIP 1/1/2015Read More →

What do the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) and the typical roleplaying game player’s handbook (PHB) have in common? The character typographies that both articulate are what Kenneth Burke would call “recipes for wise living, sometimes moral, sometimes technical” for fantasy worlds. Burke got this idea of recipes for living by analyzing proverbs through a sociological and rhetorical lens. He concluded that these short, pithy statements were a form of literary medicine, and that their medicinal quality could be found in all things literary. According to Burke, the medicinal quality of proverbs comes from their “naming” function, orRead More →

Relationship advice on the internet is worse than something in Cosmo or Ladies’ Home Journal, mostly due to sheer volume and banality. The 9 Smartest Marriage Tips Ever from Salon bobbed through the data streams today, its author claiming to provide new, useful information derived from experts who ranged from her grandmother to the latest research. The article disappointed on that front. Two things are worth noting, though: Marriage is like a credit card. Indeed. The economic model is a common trope for relationships. Turning this metaphor into a credit card is both crass and dangerous given today’s economy. Too many people spend beyond theirRead More →

There is more to Clarence Darrow than I thought. As the old story goes, the famous litigator slyly distracted juries with his cigar. He supposedly threaded a thin wire through the cigar to keep the burning ashes from falling. Enthralled juries would watch the ashes with anticipation instead of listening to the opposing counsel. True or not, the story has longevity for every negative attorney stereotype. Darrow’s most famous cases – The Scopes Monkey Trial and the murder trial of Leopold and Loeb – are noteworthy for their fame and sensationalism. For these bits of trivia, I quickly dismissed Darrow in my early days ofRead More →

Until the end of the last century, women didn’t stand up in front of audiences and give speeches on a regular basis. The women who chose to give speeches struggled with challenging gender norms just like women who entered male-dominated professions. Even today, men far outnumber women as politicians and CEOs, the kinds of folks who give speeches regularly in the public eye with media coverage. Nonetheless, as a 21st-century public, we’re more comfortable seeing women behind a microphone saying serious things. Plus, feminist scholars of rhetoric and feminist historians have uncovered the histories of many women speakers who contributed to US history, so ourRead More →

Sixty years ago the Supreme Court handed down the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Until around 2005 or so, give or take a year, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system operated under a federal desegregation order, one of the longest running orders in the country. Today, Baton Rouge Community College continues to receive entering freshmen educated under that order. Due to the cult of self esteem, the best of these students have been told throughout their education that they can succeed, that they are smart, that they have a future. In college classrooms over time, these students demonstrate facility with logic, organization, and critical thinking. Even though theyRead More →

Perhaps it’s because they are hollow that our imaginations can occupy them so easily. That is to say, it is their anti-heroism, their apparent lack of Great Qualities, that make them our size, or even smaller, so that we can stand among them as equals, like Dorothy among the Munchkins. – Salman Rushdie, Step Across the Line Referring to the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion of the Oz movieRead More →

The place of public speaking in the general education curriculum is constantly questioned. The image of communication majors in pop culture sheds light on why. Because “it’s kinda hard to put into words.” I experienced a moment of synchronicity to illustrate this. The moment is circular, a snake eating its tail. First, I received yet another email stating professional concern for eliminating public speaking in the general education curriculum. Then, later in the week, I watched a disturbing scene that negatively portrayed the communication major in the popular sitcom, Two and a Half Men.  This moment is circular because I don’t know which is the chickenRead More →

Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom toRead More →

Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death makes a perfect reading for Introduction to Humanities this semester, particularly Chapter 4 (“The Typographic Mind”). Unable to find a free PDF or DOC version online, and unwilling to scan one myself, I opted for the Sparknotes because I am a lazy, bankrupt educator. But SparkNotes are better than a YouTube claymation right? I ran into this amusing, ironic, and depressing exchange on a forum. The exchange is started by a desperate student trying to locate a free copy of the book. The haters accuse him of thievery, point him to the library, or recommend he ask a cuteRead More →