In Junior High I had a class on typing. We meandered to a windowless room full of the clickety-crunch churn of IBM Selectric typewriters, set out in rows on tables. Each had the solid ca-CHUNK keys that let you know that you hit one, even when you became proficient and fast on the things.
It seems like it was the era of the dinosaurs describing it to kids today. They’ve never even seen such a device.
But as antique as it seems, the training was important. I was ready to pick up a computer keyboard and move ahead when they became standard. Like the use of cc: to mean “carbon copy” on an email, the old system trained me well for what was to come next. Old ways often form a bedrock for learning in a world that is redefining itself all the time.
Here is a short list of items I think that we should continue to teach in schools, antique as they may seem. Many simply became lost in the desire to goose standardized test scores, which is pathetic. These are not only still relevant, they may become moreso in surprising ways in the years ahead. And that may point to new ways to teach them, too.
Traditionally, actors with an established rep as serious performers can go into comedy, but not the other way ‘round. That’s been smashed lately by The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert, among many others who riff off of CNN and let the jokes write themselves. It’s revolutionary comedy, yet deeply indebted to the topical humor of Richard Pryor and George Carlin in the 70s.
What’s more important than how it will change comedy is how it might change how we talk about current events. One central element of comedy is timing, and a sense of timing is working its way into the patter of political talk. But how do you render that in writing?
That’s the secret. It’s what I work on all the time. Let me explain …
Everyone has the experience at some time. You’ve read a book or seen a movie that you absolutely loved, and you want to tell the world about your new obsession. You might even know someone that you’d love to share this new world with. So you start telling them about the intricate details of the plot and characters and after rambling on and on … and then you see their eyes slowly glaze over. What went wrong? Often it’s that you had suspended your disbelief in something that sounds too absurd to tell easily. It makes sense to you, but the retelling leaves you sounding a bit crazy.
This doesn’t just happen with fiction. A disconnected world requires a lot of suspension of disbelief.
You know the feeling. There is work for you to do and life gets away. You may enjoy this repeat from 2011.
You have seen it used many times, but it often passes by without notice. It’s entirely possible that you had an English teacher who said it should never be done. You may have never contemplated using the second person perspective, the most direct and directed form. But you have seen it used all over the internet as one of the most immediate and direct ways of speaking to someone.
You can use it as an accusation or from inside someone’s head. Through its many uses and distinct flavors, you will find that nothing suits the internet quite like second person.
The internet is a wide, rolling river of information. It can be treacherous and dangerous to wade into if you’re not careful. If you’re looking for a cool drink of truth, the muddy brown of this mighty Mississippi of data often has a harsh stench of bias bubbling along with the waves. What can a reader thirsty for knowledge do?
The answer is to seek the source – the cool, clear stream that feeds into the torment at the headwaters. I call it the “Urquelle”, a German word meaning “original source” favored in the mountains and rolling hills that are the source of so many great rivers in Bavaria and Bohemia. This process of seeking out primary sources is valuable not just for writers, for whom primary sources have long been a staple of good, useful prose. As surely as reading is writing, today’s discerning reader should also seek the Urquelle.
There’s a persistent lie making its way through popular media- and often twisted through social media. Like any good lie it starts with a kernel of truth but gradually becomes a clear and open lie.
The truth – the labor force participation rate is at a 40 year low, down to 63% from a high over 67%.
The lie – that this is the result of people giving up looking for work, a sign that the “recovery” is weak (which can be blamed on President Obama).
We’ve discussed this before, but it’s important to confront the lie as clearly as possible. Yes, the labor force is shrinking – but this has been due to retirement of Baby Boomers for the last two year. And yes, the trend will continue. More importantly, this is an opportunity that will help us when the dust finally settles on the working careers of the Baby Boom.
Happy New Year! There seems to be so little to say as the cold night closes in and we settle in to the routine of waiting for midnight. Deadly nights like this settle into a routine of their own as time passes slowly. Being from Miami, a city that celebrates New Year’s as a lure for frigid northerners, the holiday has a special meaning to me. There is always a spotlight on the quaint tradition of a parade followed by a football game, the Orange Bowl, that showcases the typically 70F or better daze that could pass like any other.
But they don’t. There is the north to compare to, a dream of a better easier life that once called people to Miami. That was before the city grew up and became the capital of Latin America. That was before I grew up to strike out on my own and attempt to find Reality, a state of being that I knew didn’t seem to exist in the corner of the Bermuda Triangle that I once called home.
And every New Year a bit of Miami comes back into my heart.