Friday, April 30, 2010

Parting Advice

And another thing . . .

Today is the last day of classes at Utah State University, and the last opportunity to impart a little parting advice before final exams and the annual summer student diaspora. Not that anyone will pay any more attention to this than to anything else I’ve said all year.

• “A word to the wise ain’t necessary, it’s the stupid ones who need the advice.” —Bill Cosby, comedian and educator
• “Change your underwear. —Anon.
• “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” —Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), writer
• “Put that woman down! You don’t know where she’s been!”–Anon.
• “Whatever advice you give, be brief.” —Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, BC 65-8), Roman philosopher
• “Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.” —Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773), British statesman
• “Advice is like castor oil, easy enough to give but dreadful uneasy to take.” —Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw, 1818-1885), humorist
• “If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.” —Lillian Hellman (1905-1984), writer
• “Stupid people always think they are right. Wise people listen to advice.”—Anon.
• “Speak your mind. Don’t let anyone censor you. It’s the best advice. Even as a teenager, I always said what I was thinking. I wasn’t afraid of what others think. You have to express yourself no matter what anyone else thinks about it.”—Anon.
• “Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.” —Anon.
• “Hit the road, Jack” —Anon.

Editor’s Note: My mother said not to put beans in my ears... Asparagus, OK.

Today’s PeezPix: Trinidad Pier

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Military Intelligence

“WASHINGTON — Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“‘When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,’ General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.

“The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“‘PowerPoint makes us stupid,’ said Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander....”

—Elizabeth Bumiller, reporter, “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Powerpoint,” The New York Times, April 26, 2010 URL
(Thanks to alert WORDster Alexandra Halsey)

Editor’s Note: Next slide, please. Best comments on yesterday’s WORD: Cabbagehead
“The Brussels sprout is a cabbage designed by the European Commission.” —Neil
“I think Twain misspoke. Romaine is cabbage with a high school education. Chard is spinach with a college education. Rapini is broccoli with a master’s. A pearl is a grain of sand with at least three Ph.Ds.(I guess that makes the oyster a university.)” —Alexandra

Today’s PeezPix: Murres Surfing

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



“Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
—Mark Twain (1835-1910), writer, in Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)

Editor’s Note: And Brussels sprouts . . . GED?

Best comments on yesterday’s WORD:
“Being informed (an expert, alleged or otherwise) takes a back seat to those many tin-pot radio and cable hosts who stumbled into the money pot of right-wing politics after failing again and again in the now-lamented world of actual accomplishment. In today’s Kafka-esque environment, Alice’s rabbit hole makes perfect sense.” —Dan
“Even my middle is nuts.” —Will

Today’s PeezPix: Coastal Moonrise


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scream Louder!!

Is CNN-terism Dead in America?

“Part of CNN’s problem is that Fox News and MSNBC cater to the right and the left, respectively, cultivating faithful fans. There aren’t major earthquakes every day, but Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann can produce temblors on demand. . . . [P]assionate intensity sells on cable. A small partisan base is enough for big ratings; the mildly interested middle might rather watch Grey’s Anatomy.

“But CNN also suffers from being a mainstream institution at a time when mainstream authority is in crisis. CNN’s problem is the problem of the New York Times, the banks, the government and climate science. If you are an institution or ‘expert,’ especially one claiming impartiality—like TIME and other newsmagazines, whose obituaries people have been writing for decades—you are suspect.”

—James Poniewozik, columnist, TIME, April 2010 URL
Illustration by Francisco Caceres for TIME
Editor’s Note: No room for the sane middle.

Best comments on yesterday’s WORD: Dinosaur Tech
“I love books! I love newspapers! Is it a generational thing? I get sick of reading things online. I subscribe to magazines and newspapers as a means of getting the information I want without having to look at a screen. Probably everything I subscribe to is available on-line, but it’s just not the same. I like paper to hold in my hands, to underline and highlight and earmark pages. You gotta love it, baby.”—Katie
“But you can throw a cat at an iPad.”—Will

Today’s PeezPix: Kane’s Preferred

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dinosaur Tech

The Book

“There’s no question that reading off-paper, as I think of it, will increase in years to come.... And there’s no question that once again we will be treated to lamentations suggesting that true literacy has become a lost art. The difference this time is that we will confront elitism from both sides. Not only do literary purists now complain about the evanescent nature of letters onscreen, the tech aficionados have become equally disdainful of the old form. ‘This book stinks,’ read an online review of the bestseller Game Change before the release of the digital version. ‘The thing reeks of paper and ink.’”
—Anna Quindlen, columnist and book reader, Newsweek, April 5, 2010 URL

Editor’s Note: Right. And remember how online killed newspapers? Oh . . . .

Today’s PeezPix: Hollyhock .

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cerebral Flexibility

(R)Evolutionary Thinking

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought, and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.”
—Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935),
Supreme Court associate justice

(Thanks to alert WORDster Steve Marston)

Editor’s Note: Flexible thinking is so rare these days.

Today’s PeezPix: Sadie Seadog


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Media Mockery

Stewart as Beck

“It is our contention that there is simply nothing more interesting than celebrities acting like other celebrities. Sure, ‘science’ can be interesting, but good luck competing with Will Ferrell pretending to be James Lipton. And of course, there are YouTube videos of dogs running into walls, but does that really hold a candle to Jon Stewart acting like Glenn Beck?”
—Huffington Post collection of media spoofs, March 2010

Editor’s Note: Next: Shooting fish in a barrel...

Today's PeezPix: Harbor


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Diane Sawyer

Irredeemable Optimism

What kind of stories make you think, “This is why I love being a journalist”?

A: “I feel that way every day. Is that obnoxious? I get to go to work and come home with something interesting or enriching or astonishing. I’m sure it sounds irredeemably optimistic, but it’s true.”
—Diane Sawyer, veteran journalist and ABC World News anchor,
in TIME interview
, April 26, 2010 URL

Editor’s Note: A lot of accountants can say the same.

Hope for the Future: Katie Thisdell, the new editor of the student newspaper at James Madison U, faces down police with search warrants over photos of a riot to help them prosecute miscreants. “Hell, no,” the 20-year-old junior said (or words to that effect). URL

Katie Thisdell, editor of The Breeze, James Madison University's student newspaper, holds the Springfest riot edition in her newsroom. Jeanna Duerscherl/The Roanoke Times

Today’s PeezPix:


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Faint Praise

A likable cur . . .

“I have met Mikael Blomkvist on several occasions in the course of this investigation. I have found him quite likable, even though he is a journalist.”
—Police inspector Sonja Modig on investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, 2010
(Thanks to alert WORDster Andrew Merton)

Editor’s Note: Some of my best friends are journalists....

Today’s PeezPix: Humboldt Moonrise

Dope-Slap from the Copydesk: SYDNEY — An Australian publisher is reprinting 7,000 cookbooks over a recipe for pasta with salt and freshly ground black people.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Put a Sock in It!

The 2010 ‘Muzzle’ Awards
for Affronts to Free Expression

1. U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., for asking the U.S. attorney general to fine and imprison for five years a Florida critic whose website, titled, is a parody of Grayson’s official website

2. The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, for blocking the sale of a wine in Alabama because the label showed a 19th century depiction of a nude nymph. “It’s still available in 49 states.” —Bill Leigon, president of Hahn Family Wines.

3. Chicago Alderman James A. Balcer, for destroying an urban mural because he objected to its content, which featured three Chicago police surveillance cameras. Balcer: “Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there’s limits. He has to follow the law, this artist, like everyone else.” Artist Gabriel Villa intended the work to be provocative: “I wanted to create a platform for dialogue but the mural was never given a chance.”

4. The Oklahoma Tax Commission, for censoring certain state “vanity” license plates the board considered unacceptable. “They didn’t think…[‘STR8SEXI’] was inappropriate but yet ‘IM GAY’ is. I think it’s kind of a double standard.” —Oklahoma resident Keith Kimmel.

5. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
, for harassing Elvis impersonators whose street performances are apparently objectionable (in Vegas?), “in contravention of their established First Amendment rights.”
And more!
—The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression,
April 13, 2010 URL

Editor’s Note: They can’t say that, can they?

Today’s PeezPix: Albacore

Friday, April 16, 2010


A Dark & Stormy Night

Note: Yesterday was the deadline for entries in the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, giving rise to cries of “Doh!” (dopeslap) among procrastinaters, and wild anticipation among lovers of purple prose. To whet the appetite, here’s the 2009 winner:

“Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin’ off Nantucket Sound from the nor’east and the dogs are howlin’ for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the Ellie May, a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin’ and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests.”
—David McKenzie, 27th grand price Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winner,
a 55-year-old quality systems consultant and Bulwer-Lytton contest recidivist
from Federal Wa
y, Wash., 2009 URL

Editor’s Note: Doh! (slap!)

About the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest: Created at San Jose State University in 1982, the contest is an international literary parody contest honoring the memory
(if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and phrases like “the great unwashed” and “the almighty dollar,” Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the Peanuts beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Image: Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, by George Frederic Watts (died 1904).

Today’s PeezPix: Beachrunner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Newsrooms of Yesteryear


“The clatter of typewriters and the rattle of whiskey bottles in desk drawers; the haze of cigarette smoke in the air; the fedoras and notepads, the sleeve garters and eyeshades; the cries of ‘Copy!’ and ‘Get me rewrite!’ Remember newspapers? Neither do I, to tell you the truth, even though I’ve been working at this one for more than 10 years. But you have to go back a lot further — nearly half a century — to sample the sights, sounds and smells that still evoke the quintessence of print journalism in all its inky, hectic glory.
“Or you could go to Film Forum, where a 43-movie monthlong series called The Newspaper Picture opens on Friday with Billy Wilder’s ‘Ace in the Hole’ (1951). The program is a crackerjack history lesson and also, perhaps, a valediction. Not a day goes by that we don’t read something -- a tweet, a blog, maybe even a column — proclaiming the death of newspapers, either to mourn or to dance on the grave. And even if those old newsprint creatures survive, say by migrating to the magic land of the iPad, they sure ain’t what they used to be.
“Where are the crusty editors and fast-talking girl reporters of yesteryear? I’m peeking over the cubicle wall, and all I see are Web producers and videographers.”
—A.O. Scott, New York Times columnist, with a nice tour of smoky newsrooms
of yesteryear on celluloid, April 2010
(Thanks to alert WORDster Alexandra Halsey)
Photo: Kirk Douglas in Billy Wilder’s “Ace in the Hole” (1951).

Editor’s Note: Where’s my green eyeshade?

Another Editor’s Note: Yesterday’s WORDs about the late, great Bea Zeeck prompted appreciative WORDster response. See the blog and scroll down to comments. Add your own.

Today’s PeezPix: Pink Sunrise


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

-30- for Bea

A Life Well Spent

Editor’s Note: Bea Zeeck, who was a WORDster long before she signed up for this daily spam several years ago, died last week. We honor and salute her today not because of her passing, but because of her life of words, curiosity and journalism that filled the previous 88 years, from a Missouri journalism degree in 1943 to a final round of Jeopardy. The following from two tributes.

“Her family laughed and shook their heads Friday as they told sometimes bizarre stories about her life, her career and her fierce appetite for knowledge.

“Even in her final hours, her grandson Phillip Zeeck said, Bea wanted to know what the question was for the day’s final round of ‘Jeopardy.’

“‘She was so engaged her entire life,’ said Phillip, a law student who spent a recent summer living with his grandmother. ‘From the mailman to what was happening in Washington, she was engaged in the world around her. She never lost that acutely inquisitive mind.’”
—Matthew Mcgowan, reporter, Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal, 2010

Among her principles: “A free press is the bedrock of a free society. ‘Democracy only works if people know what’s going on,’ she would say. ‘Journalism is how they know.’

“She believed newspapers should print all they know. Her favorite newspaper motto: ‘If you don’t want to read it in the paper, don’t let it happen.’ And she would point out the slogan chiseled over the main entrance to The Amarillo Globe and News: ‘A newspaper may be forgiven for lack of wisdom, but never for lack of courage.’”
—David Zeeck, publisher, The Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune, 2010
Photo: Family photo of Beatrice Thrapp
at the newspaper in Chico, Calif., in the 1940s.

Today’s PeezPix: Red Poppy #14


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pulitzers 2010

The Best of American Journalism

News Note: The seven-reporter Briston (Va.) Herald Courier wins Pulitzer's top award for Public Service Reporting; Others include Washington Post (4), New York Times (3), and prizes for Web journalism.

“In the latter years of the 19th century, Joseph Pulitzer stood out as the very embodiment of American journalism. Hungarian-born, an intense indomitable figure, Pulitzer was the most skillful of newspaper publishers, a passionate crusader against dishonest government, a fierce, hawk-like competitor who did not shrink from sensationalism in circulation struggles, and a visionary who richly endowed his profession. His innovative New York World and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reshaped newspaper journalism. Pulitzer was the first to call for the training of journalists at the university level in a school of journalism. . . In writing his 1904 will, [Pulitzer] made provision for the establishment of the Pulitzer Prizes as an incentive to excellence.”

Pulitzer-winner David Gilbert, left, who wrote the eight-part winner of the 2010 public service Pulitzer,
is toasted in the Bristol Herald Courier newsroom by publisher Carl Esposito
and managing editor J. Todd Foster.
(David Crigger/MediaGeneral photo)

In Their Own Words . . .

“A hell of an honor.”
—Daniel Gilbert, winner of the public service Pulitzer for the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier.
“We’re so proud of the terrific, terrific journalism they do. They were able to give a voice to the voiceless, to give a voice to people who were too intimidated to speak out.”
—Brian Tierney, publisher of the Philadelphia Daily News, on reporters
Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman, who won the investigative reporting prize
for their work exposing a rogue police narcotics squad.

“We’re here to take note of the fact that the death of journalism has been greatly exaggerated. It is alive and well and feisty, especially at The New York Times.”
—Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, which won Pulitzers for national reporting, explanatory journalism and investigative reporting.

Editor’s Note: Great stuff.

More quotesAssociated Press URL
More Pulitzer PixHuffPost

Photo: Philadelphia Daily News reporters Wendy Ruderman, left, and Barbara Laker celebrate following the announcement that they won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. (AP Photo/Mark Stehle)

Today’s PeezPix: Rose Bouquet

Monday, April 12, 2010


Writing to the Audience

“Uneducated, uninformed, unskilled, inept citizen-journalists would be gone in a flash if it were not for the fact that they have such a large audience of uneducated, uninformed, unskilled, inept readers. Unfortunately that audience is growing. Education is the answer, as it always has been. All good writers are frustrated by the fact that they have to write to an audience who cannot comprehend what they read.”
—David Bresnahan, public relations consultant, 2009

Editor’s Note: Garbage in, garbage out?

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: Seadogs. . .


Friday, April 9, 2010

Historians—Journalists Who Miss Deadline

Gripping Storytelling

Actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks says most history fails as storytelling. “The writing is often too dull to grab regular people by the lapel.” But Ken Burns’ PBS miniseries The Civil War changed his mind: “I watched that with my son. There was nothing but great music married with talking heads, pan and scan of old photographs and get to the creeks at sunset. But I wept at the end of also every hour of that incredibly powerful entertainment. So I thought there might be other ways [to] make history interesting for people.”
—Tom Hanks, “America’s Historian-in-Chief,” actor and producer of new HBO miniseries, The Pacific, in Time magazine, March 15, 2010 URL

Editor’s Note: Gotta reach ’em to teach ’em.

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: Button Poppy

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dog & Pony Show

Circus Animals

“When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”
—Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965), U.S. broadcast journalist & newscaster
(Thanks to alert WORDster Marc Davidson)

Editor’s Note: TV’s dancing bears are much improved now.

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: Red at Morning. . .

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Murdoch Speaks

Say What You Think

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch appeared on The Kalb Report at George Washington University yesterday in a rare, wide-ranging conversation about the press. His TV rivals, MSNBC and CNN, “tend to be Democrats,” Murdoch said, while Fox News staff “are not Republicans.”
• About The New York Times: “I have great respect for the Times except it does have an agenda” [that includes] “anything Mr. Obama wants. You can see it. You can see it in that the White House pays them off by feeding them stories and so on.”
• About the Washington Post: “I don’t read the Washington Post. I probably should, but I don’t.”
• About partisanship: “No. I don’t think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party.”
• About Obama: “Unlike the rest of the country, I hope he does well. . . We are criminal in this country in that we are turning out a new generation of people worse educated than their parents.”
• About John McCain: “I didn’t find him personally likeable. He’s somewhat a little hard to read wondering which side of the bed he got up on that morning. But he is a great patriot. Any man who has been through what he’s been through, you can make a lot of excuses for.”
• About online news: “I think most papers in this country are going to be putting up a pay wall. How high does it go . . . We’ll see. . . We will be very happy if they just publish our headline or a sentence or two and that's it. Followed by a subscription form.”
—Rupert Murdoch, CEO, News Corp, April 6, 2010

Editor’s Note: Since we’re talking, what do you really think about Glenn Beck? Really.

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: In Rebecca's Garden. . .


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Silence is . . . Impossible


“I decided to ignore the National Day of Unplugging—a 24-hour break from the Internet, TV, iPods, GPS and phones—largely because I thought it was stupid. I hate those acts of righteous self-denial that people do just so they can brag about them: health cleanses, bow hunting, reclaiming your virginity. So when the organizers called me . . . and asked if I would participate as the first in a series of celebrity unpluggers, I immediately thought, This is a fantastic idea. If it went well, I'd be trading 24 hours offline for hundreds of hours of new self-Google results. . . . [T]he main lesson I took away from my two days is that technology is a gift from God and should never be turned off.”
—Joel Stein, columnist, Time, April 12, 2010 URL
Illustration by John Ueland for TIME

Editor’s Note: Too much noise in the system.

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: Beach Sculptures


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010


Talk Radio

Q: “I’ve been out and about, listening to talk radio. The kindest of terms you’re sometimes referred [as] out in America is a socialist. The worst . . . I’ve heard is . . . Nazi. Are you aware of the level of enmity that crosses the airwaves and that people have made part of their daily conversation about you?”

A: “Well, I think that when you listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, it’s pretty apparent, and it’s troublesome. But keep in mind that there have been periods in American history where this kind of vitriol comes out. It happens often when you've got an economy that is making people more anxious, and people are feeling like there is a lot of change that needs to take place. But that's not the vast majority of Americans. I think the vast majority of Americans know that we’re trying hard, that I want what’s best for the country.”

“I didn’t buy all the hype, right after inauguration [either], where everybody was only saying nice things about me. And I don’t get too worried when things aren’t going as well because I know that over time these things turn.”

—President Obama in interview with Harry Smith, CBS News, April 1, 2010 URL

Editor’s Note: Don’t read your reviews.....

NEWS: Rachel Maddow’s Birthday—really? On April Fool’s Day?

Overheard in the Newsroom #3790:
“Where would Superman change nowadays?”
: “Change? Where would he work?”

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo:
Coastal dusk . . . .


Thursday, April 1, 2010

More from the War Front

Media Bias

“We absolutely have an incredible bias in the media, and that bias is not a political one that most of my friends on either end of the political spectrum might say that it is. It’s, in fact, a bias towards entertainment, and that entertainment can be a really good story or a really bad story. Anything that’s more complicated in-between usually is just hard for people to understand, and people in the media aren’t interested in covering that.”
—Marine Jonathon Kuniholm on “Fresh Air,” Nov. 10, 2009
(Thanks to alert WORDster Roger Plothow)

Editor’s Note: That explains the Teabagger fixation.

Today’s Wish-I-Were-Here Photo: North Coast pier at sunrise

NEWS: Today @ USUThe world’s only religion/humor columnist, “OxyMormon” Robert Kirby of The Salt Lake Tribune, speaks! “You’re Not Nearly as Smart as You Think You Are.” Morris Media & Society Lecture Series, Taggart Student Center Auditorium, noon-1:15 p.m.