The Value of Truth: We are living through an epistemological crisis.

In the jargon of academia, the study of what we can know, and how we can know it, is called “epistemology.” During the 1980s, philosopher Richard Rorty declared it dead and bid it good riddance. To Rorty and many other thinkers of that era, the idea that we even needed a theory of knowledge at all rested on outmoded, Cartesian assumptions that the mind was an innocent mirror of nature;…

Quantum Theatre’s “Far Away” is an enigmatic abstraction, grounded by psychologically deep performances.

Quantum Theatre’s streaming production of “Far Away” is an enigmatic abstraction, grounded by psychologically deep performances. In an unstable landscape of shifting allegiances, just how much faith can we have in own senses, our family members, our co-workers, our own creative impulses, our government, and nature itself? Known for making theatre happen in unusual spaces, Quantum has mounted a thoughtful, intelligent video production of Caryl Churchill’s absurdist evisceration of trust.…

Op-ed: QAnon, the Holocaust and the deadly power of conspiracy theories

The Holocaust was the most murderous and massive manifestation of Jew hatred — and it began and ended with the aid of conspiracy theories. State-sponsored conspiracism fueled the genocide of 6 million innocent human beings. A major pillar of Nazi ideology — and an effective method of drumming up anti-Semitism — was the false accusation that Jews had “stabbed Germany in the back” during World War I. […] One of…

NASA! Mars!! Panorama!!! Video!!!! Audio!!!!!

New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars. From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of…

The Terrible Things I Have Said and Done My Entire Life, and Right Up Until a Few Days Ago, Do Not Represent Me As a Person

The media constantly takes things I say and then repeats them on their news shows and in their magazines, and they always leave something out, like the thing I haven’t even said yet that lets you know I don’t believe the thing I already said. If the media wants to be completely accurate, they should write down every word I’ve ever said in my entire life, then wait for me…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In January 2001, I was blogging about Bill Clinton’s #WhiteHouse security deposit, anachronism in the #Titanic movie, a textual detective, and #email #etiquette

In January 2001, I was blogging about The Onion: Clinton Not Expecting to Collect White House Security Deposit Anachronisms in the movie Titanic A textual detective who helps the FBI solve crimes and says Clement Clark Moore did not write “A Visit from St. Nicholas” A student whose client backed out needed a project, so I asked her to write a handout on email. Writing Effective Email: Top 10 Tips…

The belief that if people only were better educated, they’d engage

  A few hours after the horrifying attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol, I received a text from a friend noting, with distress, the picture of Republican senator Josh Hawley pumping his fist in support of the mob just a few hours before the attacks. “But Hawley went to Stanford,” they wrote. “He was a history major! Shouldn’t he know better than to encourage this?” That is a…

Man arrested in DC with weapons is released; says he made a mistake

A man arrested at DC checkpoint yesterday tells the Washington Post he is a private security guard, hired to protect media equipment. Yes, lots of people are understandably uptight after the insurrection at the Capitol last week; but in America, all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Wesley Allan Beeler has already been released — a sign the authorities don’t consider him a terroristic threat.…

I’m just getting around to watching this speech from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Impressive!

I really never paid much attention to Schwarzenegger’s time as governor of California, but because I was in living in Wisconsin during part of former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura’s time as governor of Minnesota, I guess I expected bluster and bravado. Yes, waving the Conan sword certainly provided manly spectacle for the groundlings, but the sword was an opportunity to introduce a metaphor — he put it down with a…

What if the DC rioters had been Black? I think we know the answer | Aja Hannah

This is not just an issue of a double standard between BLM protesters and white, Republican rioters. It is an issue of safety and justice. Black people asking for accountability when police are violent were met with violence from police. White people attempting to stop an election by force is met with sympathy and seemingly unprepared officers. That’s an issue for everyone in America who values their own security. Tell…

Fact Check: No, an NPR story on the Trump supporters’ attempted coup dated January 6, 2021 9:33 AM ET is not a sign of a conspiracy theory

According to the Internet Archive, this is a story NPR posted at 9:33 this morning. As events developed, and the story changed, NPR updated this page — drastically. As you can see, the headline and the picture are different; though the date the page was first created is still there, the page now also includes an “Updated at 3.08pm ET” time stamp. (The blue highlighting is mine.) Conspiracy theorists are…

The Unbearable Weakness of Trump’s Minions

Note that the URL of this story indicates it was initially published under the title “Cowards Are Destroying the GOP.”  Opinion stories that take a clear stand are a valuable part of legitimate news coverage, though of course they need to be well sourced, and a good editor will seek a balance that reflects a range of legitimate views. (So, no racism, no hate, no misinformation that could damage public…

Thomas Jefferson on “newspapers without government” vs “government without newspapers”

Those darn founders with their darned respect for the free press. So biased! I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In December 2000, I was blogging about typeface snobbery, freedom in video game spaces, the first email message, and T.S. Eliot’s anti-semitism

In December 2000, I was blogging about Typeface snobbery (The Onion) Videogames as gendered play spaces (Henry Jenkins) Who wouldn’t want to trade in the confinement of your room for the immersion promised by today’s video games? …. Perhaps, my son finds in his video games what I found in the woods behind the school, on my bike whizzing down the hills of the suburban back streets, or settled into…

Oh, No. YouTube is Deleting Videos.

Oh no.  First YouTube institutes a “COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy” and starts deleting videos that tout fake cures or discourage people from following the medical advice of the WHO; then, YouTube takes a stand against any video that “misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.” What’s next? Will they go after videos that include the phrase  “Merry Christmas?” Or…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In November 2000, I was blogging about the US Presidential election, mirrors, Arts & Letters Daily, and more

In November 2000, I was blogging about Ursula K. Le Guin Why we perceive mirrors reversing things left/right but not up/down Pioneering blog Arts & Letters Daily (just a year older than my own blog) Nick Montfort’s constrained poem “Upper Typewriter Row“ The 2000 US Presidential Election controversy (ballot design, hanging chads, recounts, political cartoons) The Web Economy Bullshit Generator The Onion’s fake “Fontly Speaking” typeface design column. James Lileks’s…

Stunning writing in this WaPost reflection on the Trump campaign’s journey from a gold escalator to a landscaping parking lot

I’m stunned by the writing. Here’s just a sample: Outside the Clark County Election Center in Las Vegas, a news conference was interrupted by a hysterical man in a sleeveless tank that read “BEER BBQ FREEDOM.” “The Biden crime family is stealing this election!” he screamed over and over again, as if repetition would make it true. In Philadelphia, a demilitarized zone formed early Friday afternoon at Arch and 12th…