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Posts Tagged ‘Definitions’

Dear Anti-maskers:

Congratulations! You and our inept president have helped the United States reach a milestone.

(Ironic how your battle cry is the co-opted “My body, my choice.”)

I understand your desire for personal freedom. But with personal freedom comes personal responsibility. But often, though, people do not do the right thing for themselves or others.

Let’s look at some past freedom vs. personal/public safety issues:

Those four legislative efforts save roughly 723,000 lives every year.* The first three save nearly 30,000. That’s a large enough number to warrant legislation, apparently.

You see where I’m going with this?

246,083 Americans have died of the Coronavirus.

246,083 mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents.

It’s more deadly and prevalent than the flu.

Americans make up just 4.25 percent of the world population, but have contracted 20 percent of total Coronavirus cases. Americans deaths make up 18.6 percent of the 1.32 million deaths worldwide.

Clearly, we are not managing the spread effectively.

Clearly, lives are at stake.

Clearly, we need to do something.

I’m not a huge fan of personally intrusive legislation like a national mask mandate, but if y’all keep up your shenanigans, that is EXACTLY what we are going to need.

So wear a damn mask, and stay away from people not in your household.

Kthxbye,
Beth

*I’m happy to give you my sources for those stats, but I know you don’t trust scientific or news sources. (In case you do, and I’m being unfair, visit the links in the post plus this one and this one and this one.)

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Dear People Talking About Election Fraud:

Look. Listen. I get it. I’m still not over the 2016 election.

I couldn’t believe that people would vote for Trump the first time. But they did, and he won. And we all got on with it.

We’ve had four years of (fill in your preferred adjective).

Why is it so hard to believe that the same sentiment that drove the “silent majority” to the polls against Clinton in 2016 could be the same thing driving folks against Trump in 2020?

His presser last night was … unhinged. It was made up of lies. It was embarrassing.

The election was not rigged. There hasn’t been widespread voter fraud.

Let’s look at the ways Americans had to vote:

  1. Early voting. This does not seem to be in dispute.
  2. In-person voting Nov. 3. This does not seem to be in dispute.
  3. Absentee voting. This is apparently what’s in dispute. By Trump.

With absentee voting, people could mail them in or drop them in a ballot box. State laws vary, but the mailed-in ballots usually are counted as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. The deadline to drop in the ballot box in Georgia was 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Again, states vary.

OK, stay with me here: Early voting and in-person voting are tabulated easily. Absentee voting takes longer because poll workers have to open and carefully check the ballots in a guard against — wait for it — fraud. Some states can open and count early. Some can’t.

I am a Georgia voter. I did not want to wait in line and be around people in a PANDEMIC. I requested, filled out and returned an absentee ballot via drop box by the Nov. 3 deadline.

Georgia had better DAMN WELL count my vote. (And I did NOT vote for Trump.)

As there were historic numbers of absentee voting, the processing will take longer. DUH.

Absentee voting has a long, strong history in America. It’s the way those in the military vote, for crying out loud.

Also, Trump himself has used absentee voting (as recently as August) and encouraged people to vote by mail. In Arizona. Where he thought he had plenty of support.

But you know what? Spitting on Arizona favorite John McCain’s grave has a cost.

You know what else has a cost? Calling war dead “suckers and losers.” Georgia has 13 military bases. Georgia also has Stacey Abrams, who has worked tirelessly to increase voter registration and voter turnout.

There are many reasons why people would want Trump to be a one-term president, just as there were many reasons why people didn’t vote for Clinton

Just as the Democrats have not engineered a worldwide Coronavirus hoax, they have not perpetrated voter fraud. Please note that Georgia and Arizona (two states you are wound up about) both have Republican governors. And Georgia’s Secretary of State is a Republican too. One Trump supported.

Nevada’s is too. Are you alleging that they are in on this plot? Please.

And if Democrats were going to rig an election, wouldn’t they flip the Senate too? Come ON.

So stand down, outraged Trump fans. This is our democracy — the one you profess to love.

This is our process and it works, whether you like it or not.

Your fellow American,

Beth

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There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.
Edward Tufte

Dear Jeff Orlowski,

Thanks for directing “The Social Dilemma” for Netflix. A number of friends told me to watch, so I did.

It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking look at how tech companies manipulate people for profit. Also, we are conditioned by society (i.e., watching others) to want to be part of these platforms (hey, Social Learning Theory!).

DUH.

We live in a capitalist society. We are all potential consumers. Social media algorithms are no different (to me) than companies choosing which radio, television and newspaper ads to place based on user data gleaned from Nielsen/Arbitron ratings and subscriber information.

One of the underpinning theories for my journalism and mass communications dissertation was Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model (1988). Media manipulation is a peaceful way for those in power to maintain the status quo.

Their recommendation for scooting out from under control? Get your information from many sources.

DUH. AGAIN.

It’s personal responsibility. Critical thinking.

You don’t want to be addicted or manipulated? Then employ your critical-thinking skills. Put your phone away one in a while. And beware the filter bubble.

Maybe I’m just super cynical. Critical. Suspicious. Typical Gen X.

I’m also someone who has been trained to look at all sides of an issue, thanks to my reporter background.

In the documentary, Sandy Parakilas, senior product marketing manager at (formerly with Uber and Facebook), said:

“(There are) biases toward false information … the truth is boring.“

One more time: DUH.

In news, we have a phrase for that: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

That’s because — by its very nature — news is an anomaly. You don’t cover the planes that land.

And the more unbelievable, horrible and salacious something is, the more interesting it is. It’s human nature to swivel your head when you pass a car crash.

 

So, to me, there’s nothing new here.

Plus, your documentary is as manipulative as the social media it criticizes.

The irony is not lost on me that it was created for a streaming service that tracks user engagement and supplies content based on history.

The doom-and-gloom soundtrack helps instill that sense of dread.

And I love how the tech folks interviewed have all made their money and now suddenly have developed a conscience.

One of the main interviewees, Tristan Harris, might be worth up to $5 million.

Huh.

Interesting.

That doesn’t make your documentary any less compelling. It just means I had a chance to practice what I preach.

Keep up the good work!
Beth

 

 

 

 

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Dear Evangelicals for Trump:

I infiltrated your ranks Thursday night, against my own best interests and Eddie’s wishes.

We were both afraid it would be shoulder to shoulder with no masks in sight.

We were wrong.

The hotel employed social distancing efforts, and nearly everyone was wearing a mask. At first.

I didn’t take any chances. I double masked — with a twist.

My mask says “But her emails.” Heh heh.

To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t burst into flames upon arrival.

Let’s just say you’re not my usual crowd.

And I did find it very funny that I followed a car with the custom license plate “SAVED” into the parking garage.

So why did I go?

Because I genuinely wanted to know how people who follow the Bible can also follow Trump.

I was raised Presbyterian. I know scripture. And nowhere does it say:

And if thou wanteth the p—-, thou shalt grabbeth the p—-. And thy womenfolk will submit, for it is good.

Anyway, the crowd warmer was a gospel couple. Lovely, but not exactly sing-along style. Not for me, anyway, because, you know, HEATHEN.

The emcee for the night welcomed the crowd, then introduced Jonathan Cain.

The Jonathan Cain from Journey.

And my inner voice (in the voice of Daveed Diggs) said, “Whaaaaat?!”

Apparently, he’s got a new single to promote.

 

I don’t know what you thought of “More Like Jesus.” In my humble opinion, it’s no “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and he’s no Steve Perry, vocally.

(In other words, it’s not a banger.)

Next up was Jentezen Franklin, a “trusted voice for our president.”

And it was then, 30 minutes in, that someone finally explained why religious folks would support Trump:

It’s not about four more years. It’s about 37 more years. It’s about two more Supreme Court justices who are pro-life, pro-Israel, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Without that, according to him, “We won’t have the freedoms we grew up with.”

“What freedoms are those?” I was wondering when the dude brought out his saxophone.

I’m not kidding.

Jentezen Franklin plays “America the Beautiful.” He didn’t follow with “Baker Street,” sadly.

I guess he didn’t want Cain to upstage him.

This was getting a talent show kind of vibe, so I was excited to see what Bishop Harry Jackson would do.

But he just promoted his new book and explained racism to a room of mostly white people. Y’all were polite, but unenthusiastic.

Bishop Harry Jackson didn’t show off his musical talents.

Interestingly, he was the first person to mention the president by name: 45 minutes into the event.

Ralph Reed, the next speaker, alluded to why.

Donald Trump with his imperfect past and with his personality … God chooses to use whoever he chooses to use.

Ah. Gotcha.

God and Jesus are the headliners; Trump is support.

Y’all seemed to love Ralph, even though he didn’t do anything music-related either.

He emphasized that you need to support Trump because he is:

Pro-life
Pro-marriage
Pro-freedom
Pro-constitution

Reed claimed Trump is “the most pro-life president in American History.”

Imma let you finish but first, let me remind you of his response to the ongoing pandemic.

In fact, let’s back up. I can’t help it.

Pro-life: Just unborn babies, apparently
Pro-marriage: Only between a man and a woman
Pro-freedom: Religious freedom to discriminate
Pro-constitution: A Tea Party battle cry regarding the expansion of the federal government (maybe)

OK. I’m done for the moment. Go on.

Next up: Alveda King, niece of MLK Jr.

She talked about squash plants and chipmunks. I was a little confused. But then she said:

Some things never change. Some things do change. There was a change of the guard in 2016.

And then she said something about Planned Parenthood “ripping little babies up.”

I see. Abortion. That’s the main driver.

OK, then. Let me say this about that:

No one is hyped to get an abortion. It’s a last resort. Also, no one is “pro abortion.” So let’s agree on one thing: The goal is to reduce abortions. How do we do that?

As we’ve seen with prohibition and the “war on drugs,” making them illegal won’t work. People will find a way, but it makes it very dangerous for women. So to me, the solution is to put more money into sex education, healthcare and contraception.

If you are pro-life (and really, aren’t we all?) then you should be supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood that actively help women with the above needs.

Alright.

Moving on to the next speaker, Richard Lee, who is as orange as the evening’s celebrant: the Cheeto in Chief.

He didn’t address abortion like everyone else. His main beef seemed to be with what is being taught in school: “garbage.”

Oh, and the Antichrist in the form of Democrats.

The Democratic Party has been taken over by the Antichrist. It’s an evil party.

I thank God that he sent Donald J. Trump to us. He is a gift to the church of Jesus Christ.

As much as you seemed to like this statement, I could tell you were restless. He willfully went over his allotted time and joked about it.

You were ready for the final act: Pastor Paula White. I found out later she is married to Jonathan Cain. Ah. He’s her third husband. With overlaps in relationships. So she’s truly taking those commandments seriously.

(🙄)

I mean, good for her for breaking into a man’s world in all respects.

In 2017, she became the first woman to deliver the invocation at a presidential inauguration.

She spent her time this night trying to convince everyone that Trump really is “godly” and “knows his scripture.”

Sure.

All I know is that I was hot in my two masks (and perhaps because of the fire and brimstone), so I slunk out a side door.

Y’all weren’t hot because all but about 12 of you shed your masks mere moments into the event.

(And that made me feel like I was marinating in the ‘Rona.)

Anyway, thanks for letting me bear witness. And now I’m on the Trump Train mailing list! This should be fun.

Your obedient servant friend,
Beth

Yeah. You know how I feel about bashing the news media.

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Dear Schoolhouse Rock creators/artists/writers/musicians:

I grew up with your catchy songs that aid learning. (For Millennials and GenZ, it’s like the 1970s version of “Hamilton.”)

It should be no surprise that I’m partial to the grammar ones:

I mean, just TRY to get those out of your head.

I’ve been thinking about one in specific lately: The Great American Melting Pot.

And, even more specifically, these lyrics:

It doesn’t matter what your skin.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot.

Yeah. A bit idealistic, no?

People are actively protesting because skin color DOES matter. (When people say, “I don’t see color,” my eyes nearly roll out of my head. Of course you see skin color just like you notice if someone has brown hair. The key is not attaching JUDGMENT.)

And immigration … well. It’s like people want to say, “That’s it: America is closed.”

Don’t even get me started on religious bias.

So. I’m writing this because I’d really love a revival where you tackle thorny issues such as redlining, Jim Crow laws, Operation Mockingbird, First Amendment rights, white privilege, etc.

I feel like storytelling via music could come in handy here.

I remember when I first truly understood the concept of white privilege. I had walked a couple of blocks in downtown Atlanta and overheard three separate conversations among black people where the subject was race.

I went home that night and asked Eddie if he thinks about being Hispanic on a regular basis. He said he did. He’s been pulled over and asked to prove he’s legal, for example. He’s Puerto Rican, FFS.

And that’s when it clicked: I rarely thought about being white. And that’s a privilege. Now, of course, I’m hyperaware.

Not everyone has that moment of clarity. So I think it’s time for some lessons in your trademark accessible way.

Can you help?

Thank you for your consideration,
Beth

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Hey Y’all:

It’s come to Auntie Beth’s attention that some folks don’t understand how the mainstream media works. As Auntie Beth has more than two decades of experience as a journalist for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines (yeah, no spring chicken), she is here to help clear up confusion with some DOs and DON’Ts.

DO have a healthy suspicion of social institutions.
DON’T only get your news from alternative news networks. There are many sources of legitimate news. If you need help finding reputable sources, use this updated interactive media bias chart.

DO understand the criteria for newsworthiness:

  • Timeliness: News is new.
  • Proximity: The news hits close to home.
  • Conflict: There is some disagreement/opposition.
  • Prominence: Names make news.
  • Impact: The news is of consequence and is useful.
  • Novelty: There is a deviance from the norm.

DON’T wonder why the conversation has shifted from COVID-19 to protests when protests hit all the above criteria.

DO understand that media representatives use the criteria to choose what to cover (see Agenda-setting Theory in communication studies). There aren’t enough staff or hours in a day to cover everything that is newsworthy. So editors, reporters, managers, producers, etc. have to make some hard decisions. These are economic/structural forces beyond the individual journalist (see Hierarchy of Influences model above).
DON’T mistake this for telling people what to think about what gets covered. In 1963, author/scholar Bernard Cohen said, “The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” But again, it’s not willy nilly and based on bias. Also, no one is controlling you.

DO understand that the way to combat this structural issue is to get your news from many sources. Again, the key here is choosing reputable sources — usually the mainstream media as there is an attempt at objectivity. Therein lies the bigger picture of what is happening in the community, region, nation and world.
DON’T get your news from Info Wars or Wonkette and think you know what’s really going on.

DO understand that news is an industry with many, many employees.
DON’T believe that every person working in this industry is part of some elaborate conspiracy theory.

DO know that news owners/folks in charge typically don’t get involved in day-to-day reporting and news coverage. (Exception: Sinclair Broadcasting.)
DON’T believe Auntie Beth? She’s happy to send you her dissertation that delves into this exact topic. That’s right: Auntie Beth has a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communications.

The findings of this study are in opposition to the ‘powerful pressure’ idea that the dominant ideology of the status quo finds its way down to the news product via the highest levels of the media organization: the owners who represent the status quo (Sutter, 2001; Iggers, 1999; Herman & Chomsky, 1988; Smith, 1988; Bagdikian, 1985).

DO understand that mainstream media reporters are literally risking their lives to cover what is happening in our world.
DON’T disrespect them by calling their work “fake news.” Don’t let the President of the United States (!) work you into a frenzy for his own ends. The mainstream media is not the “enemy of the people.” News he doesn’t like is not “fake.”

DO think carefully before you post something possibly incendiary.
DON’T run from dialogue if you go ahead and post it.

DO have an open mind. Be ready to admit you are wrong if someone who has actual experience tries to explain how things work — even if this flies in the face of the conspiracy theories you’ve been swallowing.
DON’T double down and tag Auntie Beth in something you think proves your point.

DO listen to someone who works in the industry you are criticizing.
DON’T watch a YouTube video and think you know everything. You didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.

DO understand that Auntie Beth is a living, breathing human being. In fact, High School Friend has known Auntie Beth since eighth grade and knows she is trustworthy. HSF also should know by now that Auntie Beth speaks her mind.
DON’T try to “other” her so you don’t have to pay attention.

Auntie Beth understands it’s a big industry. Not everyone in it acts responsibly or ethically. But Auntie Beth believes in the importance of the Fourth Estate.

If you have any questions, Auntie Beth is here for you. She also can call on any of her dozens of current and former colleagues at the national and local level to help set your mind at ease.

Happy watching/reading!

 

 

 

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Dear Corporate Folks:

One of the best things about my job is meeting new people and finding cool opportunities for students. As a result, I’m getting to know my hometown of Atlanta and its residents even better.

There is a big difference in terminology in the higher education world versus the professional world. I go back and forth between the two, so I hear plenty of jargon in both.

I went to a presentation about Atlanta’s workforce last week. Plenty of discussion of past, present and future.

While it was interesting and productive in general, I heard a ridiculous amount of lingo.

Here’s a taste:

  • “We have to incent someone to learn new skills.” Please. No. Can we just provide an incentive? Or encourage someone?
  • “I talked to someone offline.” Good LORD. Can you just talk to someone? Let’s leave “offline” for tech.
  • “We wanted to internship these students.” Internship is a noun, not a verb.
  • “Pre-skilling,” “re-skilling,” “up-skilling” and “out-skilling.” Oh. My. God. Can we just say “training” instead?
  • “Workstream.” I’m OK with “workforce” (barely) but not “workstream.”
  • “Internal ecosystem.” Really? This is unnecessarily complex. Company culture is slightly better.
  • “Thoughtware.” Barf.
  • “Growing social capital muscles.” Can we not?

The visual aids were just as ridiculous.

I’m not a fan of cloudy communication.

In fact, one of my dissertation advisors yelled at me for not “elevating my language” like standard scholarly journal writing. I replied that the “elevated language” is why most people don’t like to read these journals. Especially professionals in the industry of interest.

So.

No need to be clever.

No need to obfuscate. (Hee hee!)

Just be clear.

KTHXBYE,
Beth

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Here are everyday objects turned into prison weapons. Why am I posting this? Because “shiv” is one of my favorite words.

Dear Word Lovers Like Me,

I realized yesterday I hadn’t done a “words I love” post in a while. In fact, it’s been more than nine years. Shocking!

Let’s fix that.

1. Scamper: It’s the word I heard that inspired this post. I also love “scamp” as much as I love its synonym “rascal.”

2. Glisten: I get that this word is almost as polarizing as “moist.” But like “moist,” this word is perfectly descriptive.

3. Slacks: Such a good word. Almost as good as “trousers.” Say it out loud. I bet you smiled.

4. Shiv: This word conveys so much. It doesn’t even need a modifier. You automatically think “prison shank.” Yeah, I like “shank” too.

5. Haunch: It’s guaranteed to get attention, especially when used to describe a human butt and thigh. I know this because I used it just last week in the pool. I asked the instructor if we were supposed to push the weights below our haunches. She raised her eyebrows at my word choice and giggled.

I’d love to know your favorite words. Tell me in the comments.

With appreciation,
Your friendly neighborhood logophile

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Dear Brits:

Yes, I still love you. One of the things I like best, as you know, is your way with words.

While I was all up in your environs recently, I spent some time shopping. Let’s discuss what I found. It’s a little … odd.

“Cloudy” lemonade does not sound appetizing. Can you just stick with the standard noun?

Strong and punchy describes a boxer, not a cheese.

I appreciate that you are trying to get folks excited about the cheese, but I’m not sure I want “citrus hints” in my “zesty and crumbly” cheese.

This just sounds gross.

I get that the place is called “Moose Coffee,” but perhaps it would be best to remove the “moose” modifier for “flavoured & specialty teas” and “natural juice.” I don’t want moose-flavored anything, to be honest.

Now THIS is genius. It’s just a tremendous write-up. Good shout!

Thank you for all the joy you unwittingly provide.

Love and sloppy, wet and squirty American kisses,
Beth

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Dear British Signmakers:

I’ve enjoyed reading your work, but I have questions. Please clear up my confusion.

Zebra? That looks like a man to me. (BTW, it is supposed to be pronounced “zeeebrah,” people.)

Does that mean it is easy to get in? You’re inside like a smooth criminal? Is the opposite a lumpy or awkward entrance?

Why would you send me to use yet another toilet that is out of order? That’s what you mean by a “disabled toilet,” right? (Also, I know your establishment is called “Yo! Sushi,” but I think you needn’t be cute with the sign.)

Is it still a deal if you have to take a taxi back to your lodging? Or if you have to pay someone to hold your hair back? Oh wait … now I see the ampersand.

Who is eating fish in the bathroom? And what’s that other stuff? A can of spray paint? What happens in toilets in Oxford?

Do women in pubs really need all these face and hair potions? Wouldn’t it be good to have put some condoms in there too, as is offered in traditional vending machines? I would assume ‘girls on the go’ might want those. Equal rights and all.

You know I’m just kidding: I know what all these signs mean to convey. Just some light teasing from your odd American friend.

Love you!
Beth

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