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Kids Today: A Response to Mark Bauerlein (from “Dean Dad”)

Mark Bauerlein’s essay “What’s the Point of a Professor?” muses on how the professional pressure on professors affects their availablity to students, especially when those students come to college mostly for job training (rather than a character-building exposure to a world of ideas). In his response, “Dean Dad” points out the impact of higher education’s growing reliance on an army of part-time adjunct instructors (who are hired on a class-by-class…

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10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them

There are plenty of folks happy to tell you how to write better, just as any doctor will tell you to “eat right and exercise.” But changing your writing (or eating) habits only happens when you understand why you do what you do. I can help you with that. | That proposal or email you wrote must now compete for attention with Facebook and the Huffington Post. Here’s how to compete…

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Unless Buzzfeed-style Clickbait Replaces all Forms of Human Communication, or Republicans Return to the White House, Listeners will Continue to Deal with the Smug Dread Generated by the Formulaic Endings of NPR Stories

I love some good meta. I wrote a dialogue-heavy short story about writing dialogue-driven short stories. Mark C. Marino wrote this excllent MPR-style essay about the formulaic endings of NPR stories, which are designed to leave you feeling smarter but emptier, so that you return to fill your pledge-drive mug with another dose of Third World Problems angst. And although I cannot answer that question, one thing is for certain:…

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Baltimore Residents Urged To Stay Indoors Until Social Progress Naturally Takes Its Course Over Next Century

“As we continue to incrementally evolve into a completely free and fair society over the next 100 years, please do not venture outside unless it is absolutely necessary. Those who go out onto our streets before our social, economic, and political structures have undergone gradual reform over the course of several generations are doing so at their own risk.” —The Onion

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Canadians Love Poop, Americans Love Pizza: How Emojis Fare Worldwide

The company SwiftKey analyzed more than a billion pieces of emoji data, organized by language and country. According to SwiftKey’s chief marketing officer, Joe Braidwood, the results were fascinating. Here’s a sample of what researchers found: People are mostly likely to send happy faces: “The overall thing we noticed is that 70 percent of all emojis sent are positive and so that’s probably a good thing that we’re talking to…

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Boosting the Signal: Peaceful Protesters in Baltimore are the Norm

Video of people throwing rocks or burning cars appeals to our baser emotions (anger, fear, disgust), which leads to faster, more intense emotional responses that TV can use to make money (by packaging our eyeballs and selling them to advertisers). TV news is very good at capturing our attention. Images of hundreds of peaceful, determined faces appeal to our higher emotions, which are not as easy to monetize. I want…