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Posts Tagged ‘Academics’

Dear Climate Change Deniers,

I know that nothing I say can change your mind, but I can’t sleep unless I try. (I mean I can’t sleep anyway, so … )

Here are my boni fides: I have five college degrees: B.A., B.S., M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. (not bragging; just offering facts). The second is the one you should care about as it is in Geosciences.

That’s right. I’m a meteorologist.

(Uh oh, trigger warning: a scientist — member of the intellectual elite, blah blah blah.)

I know evidence when I see it with my own eyes. Even without other scientists (and even NASA) saying over and over that global warming is real, I see proof in many ways.

Increasing intensity and number of tropical storms is just one. I mean, just look!

WTF?!

So it’s really hard to deny that climate change is real.

Still with me? Let’s move on.

The second argument is whether it is caused by fellow two-legged menaces. Like most rational humans, I believe it is. That doesn’t really matter, though.

Shouldn’t we still engage in practices that will improve the environment as opposed to destroying it?

Shouldn’t we still explore alternative fuel sources?

Shouldn’t we still recycle, pick up after ourselves, eschew straws in favor of sea turtles and the like?

We all have to live here on Earth, you know. Despite Elon Musk’s attempts, Mars is still not an option.

It’s not like it really costs each of us much more to be responsible land dwellers.

Plus, there are plenty of jobs in new technologies, so it makes fiscal sense.

Come on, folks: Work with me here. Let’s be rational and make some progress together.

You want to, right?

It’d be a lot cooler if you did,
Beth

*Brian Klaas, The Washington Post

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Dear Conference Presenters:

Congratulations on having a research paper or topic deemed worthy of presentation. You cleared the biggest hurdle!

The next hurdle is the actual presentation.

When you are preparing your remarks, keep in mind that the audience members are your peers. They come to your session because there is something about it that seems interesting. They may or may not know as much as you do about your subject.

You have a duty to prepare something interesting. Auntie Beth is here to help.

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts for presenting (really, any kind of public speaking):

  • DO tell a story to kick off the presentation. You can do this; humans are natural storytellers. For example, tell us how you got interested in your topic.
  • DO think of your presentation as a narrative with a clear beginning, middle and end.
  • DO have visual aids. DON’T write out all your text on the slides.
  • DO show how to use the technology if you are presenting on the benefits of an app. Every conference room has a projector. DON’T walk up and down the aisle waving your phone as a visual aid.
  • DO relax and turn on the charm. Think of it as a conversation, or at least a conversation starter.
  • DO pay attention to your audience. If they are napping, then your storytelling needs some work.
  • DON’T read your research paper, for the love of God. (I will leave your session so fast I’ll just be a blur.)
  • DON’T go over your allotted time. It’s just unprofessional and rude to your co-presenters.
  • DON’T fight with your audience. It’s OK to disagree with various points people make, but it’s not OK to get shouty.
  • DO let organizers know if it seems like the panel makeup is not as diverse as it should be. With all the focus on under-representation, you would think that all white male panels would be a thing of the past. You would be wrong. This guy gets it:

Remember to breathe and have fun. If you aren’t having fun, neither will the people who came to see you.

Go get ’em, Tiger!
Auntie Beth

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Dear Fake News Media:

You don’t exist.

You are a figment of a certain someone‘s overactive imagination and marketing strategy to a willing audience.

You are an oxymoron. If something is fake (i.e., not real), it’s not news (news is real). News is not fake just because someone doesn’t like it.

You know what does exist? Actual news media made up of real people who work their butts off to inform the population and hold people in power accountable — the fourth estate that ensures a strong republic. (Oh that old thing … )

You know what is newsworthy? Here are the criteria:

Timeliness: happening now or just happened
Prominence: the person/entity involved is well known or powerful
Proximity: happening or happened nearby
Impact/consequence: affected or will affect readers/viewers
Novelty/rarity: out of the ordinary
Human interest: the lives of others are interesting

If it’s not out of the ordinary, it wouldn’t bear a mention. That’s just the way it is.

There’s a saying in news:

You don’t cover the planes that land.

You cover the wrecks.

Someone I know on Facebook (name withheld for protection) wrote:

MSM would be lost were it not for [Trump’s] tweets. They hang on every word, analyze them, and re-analyze them.

Um … yeah. He’s the president. What he says is news. Duh.

“Lost,” though? Not likely.

There’s plenty to cover without Trump tweeting.

It blows my mind how much we cover in one day.

That’s from Kristen Welker, White House correspondent for NBC News.

She said that last night in the AEJMC keynote panel, “Covering the White House: From Eisenhower to Trump,” held in Washington, D.C., and broadcast on C-SPAN.

(Yeah, I’m at a journalism education conference with other university professors/administrators — plus news organizations/foundations — and I’m still a journalist. Both of my professions are under fire. Lucky me!)

Those people who are suspicious of the mainstream media, though, should take solace in this fact shared in that same panel by Christi Parsons, former White House correspondent with the Tribune Company.

Because [Trump] is so personally antagonistic, journalists go above and beyond to double check.

The news media is not the “enemy of the people.” The news media consists of real people trying to do important work in a profession under siege by the person in the nation’s highest office.

Those who delight in calling the media “enemy” plus “fake,” think about this:

Do you really want to live in a country without independent media covering people making decisions with your tax money?

The true enemy of the people is the lack of critical thinking.

My advice to those worried about veracity and bias? Get your news from a variety of sources, as suggested by Herman and Chomsky way back in the ’80s.

My advice to the 43 percent in that poll? Please educate yourself about democracy and guy named Jefferson. Or don’t, but don’t answer polls. Skip the news, and just go watch Netflix and chill.

My advice to journalists? Keep on keeping on. Ask the tough questions. Submit the open records requests. Keep striving for objectivity.

We need you more than ever.

And tell me where I can donate so you can hire security.

Yours in solidarity,
Beth

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Dear William Shakespeare:

May I call you Wills (like a famous best man)? I feel like I’ve gotten to know you better over the past few days. (And you have a beard, which I like.)

My university has a special week-long “school” for professors to do a deep dive into a text to help us better teach it to students. I signed up for “Othello,” as it is even more relevant today (and I hadn’t read it since I was at this university the first time as a student). (Best part: Watching the Mekhi Phifer/Julia Stiles/Josh Hartnett movie version as homework.)

Anyway, you wrote certain lines in your other plays that people really love and quote all the time. Yet I found some in “Othello” that I’m going to start using regularly:

“Being full of supper and distempering draughts, upon malicious bravery dost thou come to start my quiet?”

I plan to use Brabantio’s line (Act 1, Scene 1) the next time Darryl rings the doorbell after 9 p.m.

“O, gentle lady, do not put me to’t, for I am nothing if not critical.”

I’ll channel Iago (Act 2, Scene 1) with Miles’ mom at the pool this weekend.

“I have drunk but one cup tonight, and that was craftily qualified too, and behold what innovation it makes here!”

Cassio knows a good drinking line when he speaks it (Act 2, Scene 3). As do I. Speaking of drinking …

“I learned it in England, where indeed they are most potent in potting.”

Indeed. Iago speaks the truth (Act 2, Scene 3) about folks drinking in a big way.

“Ha, I like not that.”

Iago delivers a line (Act 3, Scene 3) that is perfect for a variety of occasions.

So thanks for putting words in my mouth. It may have been hard to be the bard, but your efforts still resonate more than 400 years later.

Yours in all kindness,
Beth

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Dear Content Providers*:

To avoid annoying people who care about the English language (i.e., me), please learn how to use apostrophes, when to use “I” and when to use “me,” and what spelling of the word you need for your sentence.

Auntie Beth is here to help. Again.

 

1. Apostrophes

As I have explained before, apostrophes have two uses: to show possession (of things or people, but not by demons) and to show that a letter is missing (sometimes forming contractions).

What the older-looking Faddel (above) should have written is:

“19 years old, financially stable, in shape, family’s healthy.”

That would mean his family is healthy. Instead, he has pluralized “family” and rendered the sentence nonsensical.

To pluralize, you DO NOT use an apostrophe. Ever. (Please stop making me have to explain this.) Perhaps Tybee Island lifeguards are spending all their time training for beach emergencies and not worrying about punctuation, but I believe in clarity.

2. I vs. me

Here it is, one more time with feeling: Use “I” when you are referring to the subject of the sentence, “me” when you are referring to the object. The linguistics scholar above should have known better. She shouldn’t feel too awful though; even Lady Gaga gets it wrong:

3. Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

Trump is not the only one who has trouble with this if my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds are any indication. Please consider carefully which version of the word you need. I don’t want to have to keep going over this.

Thank you so much.

You’re (not “your”) a peach!
Beth

*By this I mean anyone who maintains a social media account, prepares signs, writes to someone else, etc.

Should be “teachers.”

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Dear Famous, Sort-of-famous, Barely-famous and some Just-contextually-famous People:

If I like you and your work, I have no game when I’m around you. None. Just ask Patrick Warburton.*

Forgive me when I report that I’ve had three super fangirl moments that have left me feeling like I need a confessional. And perhaps professional help.

To The Bloggess (aka Jenny Lawson):
I squealed like a toddler getting an Elsa doll when you followed me on Twitter. I’m sorry to all whose glasses I shattered and dogs I made howl.

To Steven Ray Morris, audio slave engineer for the “My Favorite Murder” podcast featuring Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark:
I may have hyperventilated when you liked my reply to you.**

To Dr. Brightman, the person who helped me become the writer I am:
I apologize for vomiting words all over you at your recent birthday celebration. My respect for you is directly proportional to the amount of geeking out I was doing after seeing you again 1020 many years after college graduation.

Me=Overjoyed; Dr. Brightman=Frightened? Bothered? Bored?

So, fair warning: If you meet me, I tend to act like a Golden Retriever. I’m sorry.

I promise I’m harmless.

Your No. 1 fan,
Beth

* Warburton was a guest of the Savannah Film Festival just before the live-action version of “The Tick” came out. Always a Puddy fan, I was an even bigger fan of Ben Edlund and “The Tick” animated series. I was at an after party, saw him standing by himself, got two beers and headed over to introduce myself. He shot me down hard by explaining he was on the wagon. (Mortifying Moment No. 1)

As I was working in PR related to the festival at the time, I gave him my card with my cell number on it in case he needed anything. Then I realized it seemed like I was hitting on him. (Mortifying Moment No. 2)

I couldn’t just let the moment go. No. I had to make it worse by SAYING, “I’m not hitting on you.” (Mortifying Moment No. 3)

I will never forget the way he looked at me:

Pity. Disgust. Amusement. All of that.

And this is me, just before slinking away:

** For you non-Murderinos out there, the tag line of the podcast is “Stay sexy, and don’t get murdered.”

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Dear Trump, GOP and NRA assholes representatives,

I am a teacher, and I DO NOT want to carry a gun to class. I’m there to instruct, not take down a “bad guy.” (Armed teachers = unusually bad idea, even for you)

I have one goal in class: Teach. I work with college students, so they are paying my salary. My goal is to give them their money’s worth and more. I want to be the life-changing (life-saving in a different way) professor like Dr. Brightman was for me.

Part of my job is figuring out what each student needs (and I guarantee that it is not an AR-15 in their hands or mine).

Students usually come in a handful of personas. Here’s a field guide:

The Tracy Flick
Hand up first. Already has an A, but wants extra credit. “Overachiever” doesn’t even begin to encompass this student. Also can dissolve quickly if mastery doesn’t come easy.

The Ferris Bueller
Seems like he doesn’t care and isn’t paying attention, but he is smarter than the average bear. Often turns in the best work in the class without even trying.

The Jeff Spicoli
Sigh. What do you do about a student who is paying money to go to college, but is just a complete slacker? Love them anyway.

The Summer “Tinkerbell” Hathaway
This student is suspicious of you from the get-go, but you will slowly win her over if you do, in fact, know what you are talking about. And then she will try to push you to see how far she can go.

The Will Hunting
This student may appear to hate your guts during the class, but he will surprise you later on when he tells you that he learned so much from you. It is an unexpected, but joyful moment.

The John Bender
Hard candy shell with a liquid center. Seems confrontational, but is masking a deep-seated vulnerability. I love to see these kinds in five years when they are all well-adjusted and shit.

The Regina George
This student often is the most challenging because she has created a particular persona, and may resist your efforts to get her to think about anything/anyone other than herself. The trick is to help her figure out how to make assignments interesting enough to her so that she will enjoy doing them (thus learning in the process).

The Steve Stifler
Every female faculty member has this student’s number (meaning we know exactly who he is). No, we cannot have a meeting with my office door closed. No, we are not going together to the fraternity party Friday night. It’s great to see this student mature and even <gasp> get married.

The Sam Baker
This student is smart but can be quiet and thus overlooked. Pay attention to this one. Still waters run deep, as they say. This student often ends up being as close to you as students in the next category.

The Todd Anderson
With this student, you know early on that he/she will be in your life forever — and that is a good thing. You “get” them, they “get” you, and it is a lovely, symbiotic relationship. You start out as professor/student and morph into colleagues and friends later on. Some people in the aforementioned categories will end up in this one, and that is a lovely thing too.

I live to make a difference. And I live for notes like these:

That’s from a student who graduated five years ago. No surprise that she was a Todd.

I want to learn how to better reach every student. I do not want to learn how to better reach my gun.

I want to be accurate with grading. I do not want to be accurate with aim.

I want to get paid to carry full classes. I do not want to get paid to carry a gun.

Please, please, please find a different way to achieve the one goal we all want: peace in schools (and everywhere, for that matter). The answer is not arming teachers.

Thanks,
Beth

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