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August 28, 2009

The new literacy

Clive Thompson on the New Literacy
"I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization," she says. For Lunsford, technology isn't killing our ability to write. It's reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions. The first thing she found is that young people today write far more than any generation before them. That's because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involves text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom—life writing, as Lunsford calls it. Those Twitter updates and lists of 25 things about yourself add up. It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again. But is this explosion of prose good, on a technical level? Yes. Lunsford's team found that the students were remarkably adept at what rhetoricians call kairos—assessing their audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across. The modern world of online writing, particularly in chat and on discussion threads, is conversational and public, which makes it closer to the Greek tradition of argument than the asynchronous letter and essay writing of 50 years ago.

August 26, 2009

Watch to at Least the 29-second Mark, When They Bring out the Geiger Counter!

YouTube - Shocking 1950's Commercial!...

August 24, 2009

Is it Uplifting or Monstrous . . .

. . . that in Hell's shithouse a woman made...

August 21, 2009

Nature's Typos: Six-Legged Fawn

YouTube - 6-Legged Deer Attacked By Dog (raw b-roll from...

August 15, 2009

What I've Learned: Cleaning a Burned Pot (Even a Le Creuset!)

Quick cleaning tip: If you burn food to the bottom...

August 12, 2009

What Jefferson meant when he said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants."

The Rude Pundit I had no idea Jefferson said that in reference to Shays' Rebellion.
. . . for a long time, as a threat to people in power, protesters trot out this line from Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants." It's been tossed back and forth between the left and right like a football at recess at the special school, although most often it's proudly displayed by the yahoos in some extreme right wing nutzoid movements, be it militias or the townhall idiots. And it'd be a poignant quote, one that gets us back to our roots as a revolutionary society. Except that Jefferson was actually talking about the blood of ignorant people who rise up in arms against the American government, too. In fact, it was mostly their blood. The entire letter makes this clear, and, as with so many things properly understood in relation to the Founders, it is stunningly prescient. Jefferson was talking to John Adams' son-in-law about Shays' Rebellion, a truly fascinating episode in the early history of the nation, pre-Constitution, but post-Revolution, where rural Massachusetts citizens rose up against the state's government over issues of taxes and debt. They were crushed, of course, and many of the politicians of the time were all a-twitter with how this was an attack on liberty and how the rebels should be put to death. And while he could be something of a drama queen in his rhetoric - well, really, they all could be (it's the effect of long-term wig-wearing) - Jefferson's essential message in his letter was, more or less, "Chill. Stupid people will act stupidly." Or, as he put it, "I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty." See, Jefferson was forgiving the dumb, saying it was better to have idiots uprising than to have no civic engagement at all. But we have to understand that they're dumb and that the dumber they are, the more they will rage in their dumbess. . . .

August 10, 2009

Definitions: The Gish Gallop

Gish gallop - RationalWiki A pretty common--and dishonest--argumentative technique. I'm glad it has a name.
Named for creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish, the Gish gallop is an informal name for a rhetorical technique in debates that involves drowning the opponent in half-truths, lies, straw men, and bullshit to such a degree that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised.