November 2009 Archives

What you're missing!

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Let me say the benevolent Victorian narrator is hilarious in his commentary. I especially liked the reference to "dead as a door-nail" as a simile/just an expression. It really set the tone.

I don't know if it's my bias (having seen many renditions of "A Christmas Carol" before reading the book), but I had a hard time understanding some scenes. I'm used to the visual and perhaps I'm not getting it because of a change in language of the time, but if I had not seen some scenes already I'm not sure if I would have understood.

"Suddenly a man, in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood."

At first, I didn't know this person was fake. I had an inkling. I didn't recognize the name Ali Baba at first either. It wasn't until Robinson Crusoe that I realized they were characters from the book the child was reading.

"In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches."

What does that even mean? In these parts, I feel I should have footnotes or hyperlinks. Oh! And one last thought. Is this guy gay?

"In came the cook, with her brother's particular friend, the milkman."

Students' Opinions

"Wherefore art thou Dinosaur"

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In preparation (and for my own fun), I've been researching dinosaurs. I am particularly drawn to National Geographic because of their up-to-date documentaries. Before I got started, I wanted to see how much I still knew. I took the Dinosaur Quiz on their homepage and scored an 88%.

Keeping up with the always changing world of dinosaurs is tough work. I had to refresh myself on the old information before including the new. For example, I read the Dinosaur Mummy article from 2007 to refresh my memory of the documentary I saw about Dakota (the name they gave the little hadrosaur). This researched changed what we know about the muscle and organ structure of dinosaurs.

You may not think dinosaurs are still popular or in the news, but the Tribune-Review just had an article about the new crocodiles found in Africa on the front page. I couldn't find their link so I'll link to the Chicago Tribune's article.

I've watched Bizarre Dinosaurs, When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs, Dino Death Traps, Dinosaurs Decoded. I've searched the Wyoming Dinosaur Center book store to see what may be helpful to know while working there. I ILL-ed a few books including Extreme Dinosaurs (an amusing children's pop-up book and Jurassic West (a detailed account of paleontology in western America). As you may be able to guess, the second book was more helpful.

Although this won't really help me in Wyoming, I visited the touring Chinasaurs exhibit at the Baltimore Maryland Science Center.

One Thing I Can Tell You

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Is You Got To Be Free!

"The Decline of the English Department" just goes to show you that people want money today rather than to be a scholar. It takes a lot more brainwork to be a scholar than to be a high paid business person.

Disclaimer: I do not mean to put down teachers. We need them.

Most of the students majoring in English, history, or a foreign language are going into teaching also. They aren't majoring in English to really learn it. English is one of the most versatile majors for education. People are looking for majors that will provide them with a job. English, at first glance, doesn't appear to have many openings/outlets to high paying jobs.

People also aren't reading books anymore so wannabe writers may look to major in something else that will make them money and write part-time.

Even Seton Hill feels this pressure in the humanities. We used to have philosophy as a major, but now it has been dropped to a minor.

"Finding pleasure in such reading, and indeed in majoring in English, was a declaration at the time that education was not at all about getting a job or securing one's future. In comparison with the pre-professional ambitions that dominate the lives of American undergraduates today, the psychological condition of students of the time was defined by self-reflection, innocence, and a casual irresponsibility about what was coming next."

Why can't we go back to that?

SO

Lucky 13

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I love music, but wow this chapter was long. That's probably why it took me so long to blog. Music is the greatest kind of poetry for me. The instruments (whatever they may be) add something even greater to the experience, leave emotion and feeling undiscovered. The sounds of the voice, phonetics, vowels, rhythm, and consonants are still there, but there is still much more.

"Words describing smooth or jarring sounds, particularly those resulting from consonants, are euphony and cacophony" (193).

Wow! I knew there were words that sounded good or bad to me. I could never actually put this idea into words though. I'm glad a textbook finally verified this for me. When I write, in an area of tension, I like to include the "percussive and choppy sounds" to add to the tension.

This actually reminds me of names and how hard names can be (not always) connected with harder people like Cain versus Abel.

SO

It's Getting Cold Outside

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So put on all your clothes.

I much prefer The Cavalier Daily's website to Harvard's or Seton Hill's. The three pictures are really attractive to the eye. There is a lot of white space, but that is ok with me. I'd rather there be white space than overcrowding with text. Everything bold or blue could be clicked on so color was used appropriatly.

"Below the fold" was a list of other links by placement in the paper even a picture of that day's/week's paper was up. So cool. The only thing I felt was strange was that I could not click on the pictures to link to the article.

This is a simple update/rearragement that the Setonian Online can probably do. It doesn't include the hard stuff like a slideshow or video. We don't even need more pictures than we had in the paper.

SO

Application

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I'm not going to bash The Harvard Crimson especially since they have a better website than we do. Here are some things I noticed (positive and negative):

  • The site was text heavy
  • Some pictures in slide were repeated at the bottom of the page if you scrolled down
  • They had a slide show
  • They "above the fold" part was done very well
  • The "below the fold" was mostly short links
  • It's constantly updated
  • Many time more than one person is in the byline
  • Their use of color pulls you to believe some things are links (like the time)

I wonder how they are able to do all these things (a bigger staff? a bigger lab? more funding? more dedication? different programs? bigger school?). The real question though is: "What the Setonian Online can feasibly take and apply?" I mean just look at Seton Hall's Setonian. There's no way ours is even on the radar.

SO

This sick strange darkness

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Comes creeping on so haunting every time... (Blink 182)

In "Porphyria's Lover" did the main character kill the girl? I feel that hid did. "In one long yellow string I wound / Three times her little throat around / And strangled her..." (367) But, why?

I'm missing a motive. I'm really unclear as to what's happened here. Could someone enlighten me?

I did like the rhyme sceme. It changes and there is no pattern (that I can find), but it still flows. It switches from abab to bbcb.

SO

Ideas and Situations

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"If you are able in such ways to distinguish a work's various situations from the writer's major idea or ideas, you will be able to focus on ideas and therefore sharpen your own thinking" (Roberts 121).

But aren't situations part of of the ideas? They lead to ideas...Morals are the ideas.

Really, I wanted talk about that quote on page 120, but so many people already did (and they said what I wanted to say) so it was pointless.

SO

Not True Love

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"Luka, tell them in the stable not to give Toby any oats today" (Roberts 392).

I believe that Anton Chekhov's Mrs. Popov in "The Bear: A Joke in One Act" didn't really love her husband and wasn't in love with Smirnov either. She seems to be trying to spite her husband and one-up him by being more faithful than he was. As Carissa mentioned in class today, she had powdered her face and when she was talking to him (via a painting) she never mentioned anything more than a skin-deep attraction.

I believe Smirnov, being the first man to see her after her husband died, was what she attatched herself to. We mentioned in class that his rude, frankness pushed her to liking him. She was used to a liar so the other extreme was some sort of relief. Or it could be looked at the opposite way. She was used to someone mean to her so someone else that was mean reminded her of her husband. Vicious circle.

In any case, she doesn't say I love you back to him. She yells for him to get away from her before he kisses her. (I don't think he really loved her either, but that's another blog.)

SO

Skepticism versus Closed-minded

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"'The hardest thing to do is to persuade a reporter that there simply is no big story here.' He said he was fully aware that politicians and others caught in embarrassing situations often resort to protesting that there is no story" (Haiman 57).

Journalists are supposed to be skeptical and I guess they get pulled into it. They get closed-minded, but I also feel some politicians/big business people just hate to get questioned.

I've been getting that lately with an article I'm investigating. I'm not going to go into details, but people keep telling me it shouldn't be a story and there is no story. Then, I tell them what I think and where the story is and they admit that "yea, there really is a story" except there is just part of it they don't want me to expose/go into depth/they feel it's private.

Maybe there is no big story, but there is a story. Framing is wrong, but it is also how we are guided to write (perhaps not outright). Write about the controversy because that's news so maybe make it a controversy.

SO

Methane Stinks

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The garbage interactive media thing was interesting. I actually clicked through and read each of the slides before I discovered a video would pop up. My browser/service has been very slow lately. I actually enjoyed the information slide that you can click through more than the video. I felt I had all the information I needed without it.

Then again I suppose you should have some reporting with added to the mix so it doesn't just seem like an eco-informational website. I took the recycling path first. Not much to say. It was interesting to learn the process of where our trash goes, though I'm not sure where the actual news was or if this was a news site at all. I felt it was also missing numbers and facts like how many garbage sites are there in the US that actually convert methane to good use.

I can see how interactive media is effective in attracting and keeping audiences. Not everyone is textual. With unlimited space on the internet, why not bring in color, sounds, and motion. If you give the readers/users a chance to chose what they want to see also the power attracts them to keep coming back. After all, a hardcore Republican is not going to return to a site or newspaper that pushes only Democratic views.

SO

Ugh! Spiders!

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So when I opened wired.com it took me to this page and at first I was a little weirded out by the spiders, but I'm here to talk about the purpose of links on a page.

For this article, I found that the pictures also acted as links. These links not only link to more pictures, but the article changes underneath the picture. It's kind of like a text-game or an extended caption.

Links let you go to different pages for:
  • more information
  • definitions
  • a similar story
  • pictures/graphics/movie
  • the next page of the story
  • credits
But the great thing is that you don't have to click on them. If you don't need a definition or you don't want the rest of the story, you don't have to bother looking it up.

Students' Opinions

Intramural Article

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So I found that Intramural sports have actually been written a lot about by the Setonian, but not lately.

This article takes place in 04. Interesting, because there seems to be a similar problem still going on with the sports.

An article just about intramural basketball was in 06. I could research the improvement into a real team possibly and if it really worked.

Another 06 article talks about how the teams are pressed to find time and places to practice in the gym. Another school had a similar problem and wrote an editorial about it.

Interesting article about the return of sports on another campus after 70 years.

I think the lack of information about intramural sports/club sports on the Seton Hill main page, athletics page, Griffin's Lair, and GriffinGate really says something about the visibility of the sports. Currently, we offer only three competitive intramural sports (Flag football, sand volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee) and a lot noncompetitve activities.

Many of the websites listing SHU's intramural activities were outdated. Other student papers wrote about the lack of space for intramural sports, but that isn't the problem here.

New Cars and Twilight Stars

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The online New York Times section on New Cars came as a surprise to me. It seemed like an advertisement more than an article because the pictures shown would be like ones that appear in a TV segment. Only there wasn't some information crowded onto the screen about where to purchase it. It also reminded me of the Auto section of a newspaper. I think this is a visually pleasing, updated way to present an old bit of information.

Though I don't know much about Markets and stock, the page was interesting because it was up to the minute. It changed as soon as there was a change to report.

And since we all know about Twilight, I decided to look at this article that combined text, hyper links, and video. If you get bored by the article or want to check out information, it's just one click away. It even had a link to an old movie "Into the Wild" that Kristin Stewart was in.

Students' Opinions

You Knock Me Off Of My Feet!

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Michael Jackson song is what I was thinking of for those who didn't know.

In any case, I must blog something for part four of "John Henry Days" by Colosn Whitehead. So, like any good story (except this one), I'll start at the beginning: "They come out of cars. Out of vehicles hot from sunlight and conveying engines. The hoods tick cool. Parking is a hassle. Nose to nose" (245).

This whole section reminded me of Steinbeck's book "The Grapes of Wrath" where every other chapter (almost) was scattered, illogical, and could almost take place at any spot in the story. These kind of chapters continue to show up in "John Henry Days" as well, but the difference is that the section isn't metaphors. Though it does not describe any main character, it does relate to the event/plot of the story. It's acts as more of a building exposition.

Why does Whitehead do this?

Something I also wanted to confirm is on page 269 with the Sepia Ladies Club. They call themselves this because they're old fashioned and proper, right? The "Sepia" part reflects the color of the old pictures that were taken.

SO

Quality, not Quantity: News Writing Portfolio 3

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News Writing class is three quarters of the way done. This portfolio will demonstrates the skills I have learned in class and out of class between the last portfolio and this one. This portfolio will also demonstrate the conversations/debates I have generated about the texts in depth and in brief. I will be putting up a a couple of blogs for each section that demonstrate these skills: Coverage, Depth, Interaction, Discussions, Timliness, Xenoblogging, and Wildcards. We didn't have many blogs this time so what I learned is demonstrated through quality, not quantity. 

To see the definition for these sections, see this blog of Dr. Jerz's. This is where you can see other students' portfolios.

Coverage - Old to recent, all the work I've done with exception of wildcards at the bottom

Depth - Longer work, goes in detail, cites other sources or personal experience

Interaction - where I commented/disagreed on my own blogs that led to more discussion. (Because there were only six mandatory blogs this section, the number here is low.)

Discussions - Blogs that got many comments on and productive discussion without much interaction. (Because there were only six mandatory blogs this section, the number here is low.)

Timeliness - Posted at least two days early and got comments

Xenoblogging - my comments on other blogs. I did not split it up so, if you're interested, click the links and see to which catergory they apply.

Wildcard - extra blogs that weren't for this class, but I wrote during this time and may tie into the class

  • The Dinosaur Capstone - describes my Honors Capstone in which I will be including New Media Journalism methods.
  • Want Pot? Get a prescription - blog for another class about editorials, in depth section this is a blog I linked to that had many comments

Note that in most of the blogs I wrote for this portfolio I mention comments on the school paper (The Setonian) and what could be applied and improved on.

Writing About Lit Portfolio 3

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Writing About Literature class is three quarters of the way done. This portfolio will demonstrates the skills I have learned in class and out of class between the last portfolio and this one. This portfolio will also demonstrate the conversations/debates I have generated about the texts in depth and in brief. I will be putting up a a couple of blogs for each section that demonstrate these skills: Coverage, Depth, Interaction, Discussions, Timliness, Xenoblogging, and Wildcards.

To see the definition for these sections, see this blog of Dr. Jerz's. This is where you can see other students' portfolios.

Coverage - Old to recent, all the work I've done with exception of wildcards below

Depth - Longer work, goes in detail, links to other internet sources, personal anecdotes, little comments because of how informative

Interaction - where I commented/disagreed on my own blogs (I didn't get many moving comments this portfolio so I didn't respond a lot.)

Discussions - blogs that got many comments, productive discussion

Timeliness - posted early by one or two days, some got comments (See interaction and discussions for on time blogs that received more comments.)

Xenoblogging - my comments on other blogs. I did not split it up so, if you're interested, click the links and see to which catergory it applies.

Wildcard - extra blogs I did for class

Columns do what?

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"Reporters too often seemed to seek out the most extreme views and ignored the broad middle, where most opinion resides and where decisions typically are made" (49).

This actually reminds me of a blog I wrote earlier titled: Want Pot? Get a prescription. Commentators and I talked about the effects of using opposing arguments and how some papers can use the extreme to their advantage. This is also similar to the story Dr. Jerz told us about the few protesters out of a hundred or so that put up a fight when the police asked them to disperse.

Another thing I found interesting was that Haiman was saying columns aren't supposed to express opinions. I'm confused. I thought that was what they did like "Ask Abby/Amy" who gives advice to people that write in. Does this mean they didn't want political bias/opinions to seep in? And how are these people different from reporters? How are they more qualified to give advice? Are they psychologists? We aren't supposed to know who they are so they may not even be a journalist or objective party especially when they talk about personal problems.

Students' Opinions

All the President's Men

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The title is the name of a good movie that shows how investigative reporting actually goes about, using the Watergate Scandal. Another good one is the focused investigative reporting in "American Gangster".

"Work within the law"

This is one of the most important facts for me, not because I break the law all the time, but because I don't know law very well or where the boundaries may lie. I know that impersonating a police officer is wrong, but what about someone else? What about a professor? Or like Nellie Bly, a crazy person? Are these illegal? Or is it just illegal if you give someone else's name? Or is that also legal?

You see my dilemma. And that is just in one part of digging up dirt.

Another thing I didn't know that is "Work within the law"-ish is not to conceal criminals or pay for tips. You always see this in cartoons or movies: a journalist/reporter/private eye pays off another crook (who is sometimes on probation) for information about greater crimes. He let's this criminal go because he'll be able to keep going back to him for street information (at least until the criminal is killed for being a snitch).

Another idea with investigative reporting is avoiding personal comment. I would extend this to even quoting people that are just commenting on the situation rather than an authoritative voice because then you may seem biased if you just get negative responses. At the same time, if you are unfolding a scandal the opposition is less likely to even speak with you let alone give a postive comment on the situation.

J. and John

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We've drawn connections between J. and John Henry before so I'd like to elaborate on J.'s mystery name. Whitehead probably doesn't come outright and say J.'s name as John (I am assuming it is John) because it would make the parallel between the two too obvious. At the same time, it may not be John or John Henry at all, but because Whitehead always works around giving out his name (like during introductions) then I feel it is signifigant somehow.

In the closing paragraph, Whitehead says this about J. (right after a chapter about John Henry), "When they came down the mountain she asked, what's the J. stand for? He told her." (But Whitehead never says it!) 

We talked about in class on Wednesday of another parallel between them. We were surprised that John Henry seemed so mean and not like a hero at all (though Jessie contradicts this in her blog for that day), but J. is not much of a hero figure either.

Also, his name isn't just J. It's J., which means there must be more.

Students' Opinions

No Shortage

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There are so many things I could blog about. Orginally, I was going to blog on what a junketeer was or the List, but Dr. Jerz informed us of the meaning and the List is supposed to be something we won't know yet. Maybe I'll blog anout it later then.

I also want to blog about Jess's idea of some sort of cycle of payment or Karyssa's blog about the connections between J. and John Henry, but I also don't want to steal their ideas. I will blog about it in my last blog for this book: John Henry Days.

What I will comment on now is the attitude of John Henry and the crushing of the boy's hands. John Henry obviously feels somewhat bad. He comments on how his hands are terrorists and he seems to feel guilt at letting the second blow go even though there was nothing to stop him, but near the end he seems to care less. His focus is on the mountain and the tunnel digging.

"John Henry said he needed another shaker. The boss spat into the ground and nodded. There was no shortage of niggers" (86).

I wasn't surprised at the bosses tone because (I assume) he is white and it was the accepted attitude of the time. It seems here though that John doesn't care about the boy or about Paul with his head crushed in. He has the same process of thought of the boss. He mentions that the child is not the first person he has smashed up. John Henry's used to the work and the downsides of it. Perhaps also a little of slavery.

Journalists and West Virginia

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Well, I'm a journalist (kind of) and I have a different outlook on W. Virginia than J. does.

"Now the road dives between peaks, past towns...The speckling of quiet houses and rusted trucks draws itself from the much and develops culture and evolves into strip malls, bright knots of gas stations and fast food outlets, before collapsing again into a barbarism of shacks and rusted trucks" (20).

This is a very not glorious version of life around rural W. Virginia, but it's accurate. When my grandfather was alive we frequented the area. I'm not from the city, but I am from suburbia and I could see how it was more "country bumpkin." At the same time, in suburban MD we had exits for towns that were so small it's hard to even call them towns.

I'm also one for the beauty of nature. At least, J. knows that he is jaded by the city.

After Jerz explained in class that many people didn't think of John Henry as a hero anymore, J.'s coldness to the region, his bias, and the differences in the prolouge make a lot more sense.

SO

The Dinosaur Capstone

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As a student in the Honors Program at Seton Hill University, one of my final requirements is an Honors Capstone.

I chose to combine the two distinct disciplines of New Media Journalism and Photography. I signed up for three weeks of training in Thermopolis, Wyoming through the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Big Horn Basin Foundation. As a volunteer, I will become certified in Specimen Preparation, Field Work, and Molding and Casting.

I will takes notes and pictures, and blog my experience for the duration of the trip. My departure date is set for May 31 and my return date is June 22.

Iron that Irony

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In Roberts "Writng About Literature" (Ch 11), his setup and descriptions of irony really work for me. A lot of the time I have problems figuring out irony and understanding it especially double entendre's that have sexual meanings. Then again, I'm quite innocent in mind and I forget/don't know these things.

I have a question though what kind of irony is in "The Necklace" when she finds out it was fake. Is that irony? Situational?

Humor is funny (golly, you think?) in that we laugh at people's misfortune. I love hearing comedians talk about their relationship problems or fights, but during those fights those couples (including myself) it is the farest from fun. The same when watching people fall down slides or something. That could really hurt someone as long as it's not us. "Safety and/or good will prevents harm and insures laughter" (167).

SO

That Strong Black Man Voice

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This reminds me of our recent assignment for Writing of Poetry to speak in a voice (like ethnic) different from our usual voice. How am I supposed to do something as effective like this? I don't have the personal experience or emotion to hold an effective tone like Hughes does in "Theme for English B".

He seems to be cordial and equates himself to his white, older professor in a polite way, but at the very end it slips in: "and somewhat more free" (40). This is really forward from his underlying tone and its a distinct example of where he sets himself apart as a black man from his white teacher instead of pulling each other together because "that's American" (33).

I don't know much about Hughes or the 60s, but it surprised me that be attended Columbia University.

SO

Sorry Mom

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"And yet one-third of Americans believes that crimes by adults are on the increase and two-thirds believe that juvenile crime is on the increase. Saturation coverage of the acts of a few violent kids, he says, is distorting and skewing the nation's understanding of crime: 'Yes, 13 kids were killed at Columbine. But, by comparison, every two days 11 children die at home at the hands of their parents or guardians'" (40-1).

This has my mother written all over it. She's one of those people that read's quick snippets of information and exposes herself to media and information without questioning. If it comes from the news, she believes it is always legitimate. And so her percention of crime, of how to raise children, of the world around us, is a distorted.

As I was growing up, I remember her following whatever trend was in the news. Video games lead to violence and school shootings: confiscate and then promptly forget where you took all of them. Every egg contains salmonella and high cholsterol: no more eggs for breakfast.

It reminds me of a South Park episode about this very thing. The parents hear that school is unsafe, then their own neighbors, then themselves. Each time they took their kids away from the problem until they just sent them out into the world on their own.

I always complain about the negative news so changes to system would be great. 

SO

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