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

In October 2001, I was blogging about nothing, apostrophes, the anthrax scare, and Boilerplate

In October 2001, I was blogging about Nothing Matters. (A teaching metaphor that had a big impact on my pedagogy… I’m glad I had the occasion to revisit it. Even when I blogged it 20 years ago there were a lot of broken links on the site, but the main idea is still completely valid) The Apostrophe Protection Society Job Hunting Tips (satire from The Onion) Walking Sports Database Scorns Walking Sci-Fi Database The need for editors on the Web Boilerplate: Mechanical Marvel of the 19th Century (a steampunk robot photoshopped into historical photos creates an alternate history timeline that…

In-person classes heighten age-related hearing problems (opinion)

My family tells me I’m starting to speak louder than I need to around the house. On my campus, all students are required to be vaccinated or masked. I can hear my students much better now that most students aren’t masked, rather than last term, when everyone was masked and practicing social distance. Today I got several emails alerting me that students are in quarantine or isolation, and that they should contact me about how to make up missed work. Four in-person students stayed after class today. One was having problems using his blog. Two had very good questions about…

1

The Masterpiece Society (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 13) Space Thing Threatens Genetically Perfect Colony

Rewatching ST:TNG When a Space Thing threatens a genetically perfect colony, the wary inhabitants resist Picard’s offer to evacuate. Humans on Moab IV have for two centuries enjoyed a carefully designed society. The charismatic leader Conor speaks glowingly of fulfilling the role he was genetically engineered to hold, while the rigid traditionalist Martin undiplomatically scoffs at LaForge’s blindness. Conor is taken with Troi, who seems charmed by his attention. LaForge and the engineer Hannah strike up a good working relationship, which gets a bit awkward when LaForge gives a disability-rights speech (“I guess if I’d been conceived on your world,…

Brett Favre Urges Ban On Youth Tackle Football, Pleads For No Hitting ‘Til 14

Concussions in sports often a topic my students pick for their researched term papers. Most seem to put their trust in mandating better training for coaches, funding for better equipment, education to make sure players are wearing their equipment properly, or better treatment for players who end up disabled. The idea of fundamentally changing the sport to make it safer (at least for kids) rarely comes up, so here’s a notable endorsement. Brett Favre is calling for a ban on youth tackle football … saying he believes no child should participate in live, full-contact games until at least the age of…

See How Vaccines Can Make the Difference in Delta Variant’s Impact

Here’s a great NYT “interactive” story that points out, if there’s an outbreak of the virus in a community where most of the people are vaccinated, most of the people who catch the disease will be vaccinated, simply because most of the people have been vaccinated. (I remind my students that if there are more shark attacks on hot days, it’s not the heat that causes the sharks to attack; with more people in the water, more people will encounter sharks, hence more attacks. When there are more people in a community who are vaccinated, the people who do get…

Unvaccinated dad records days of regret in hospital — and makes heartbreaking request for daughter’s wedding in case he dies

Between difficult breaths of supplemental oxygen, Travis Campbell is fighting to relay a message about his battle with Covid-19 in a Virginia hospital. He really regrets not getting vaccinated. And while he hopes he’s turned a corner, for a very scary stretch, he thought he needed to make arrangements to die. —CNN

It is often said that autistic people lack empathy. Some autistic people are told that they can’t be autistic because they are too empathetic. Let’s explore what this means and why. – a thread.

@ItsEmilyKaty supplies another excellent thread. It is often said that autistic people lack empathy. Some autistic people are told that they can't be autistic because they are too empathetic. Let's explore what this means and why. – a thread. /1 — Emily♡ (@ItsEmilyKaty) August 2, 2021

Am I being rude or is my autism not being understood and accommodated for?

A valuable thread that explains many of the differences that make autistic people seem “rude” to neurotypicals (who are more comfortable with unspoken rules, fuzzy categories & eye contact, and who get annoyed by unfiltered honesty, stimming & requests for clarification). Am I being rude or is my autism not being understood and accommodated for? – a thread. /1 — Emily♡ (@ItsEmilyKaty) July 31, 2021  

As White Evangelical Vaccine Refusal Reminds Us, Sometimes Religion is the Problem

When reality contradicts the truths that define group membership, the evangelical community circles the wagons and puts the power and influence of its tight institutional network behind the assertion that, in fact, the emperor is wearing clothes, and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty godless liberal intent on persecuting Christians. How do I justify such a frank, unflattering assertion? Well, I’m not only well-versed in the relevant data and literature, but I grew up in evangelical authoritarianism myself, with a Christian school education and participation in short-term youth mission trips. I have evangelical vaccine refusers among my close relatives, and…

The YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot

While rational minds worry about the impact of biased cable TV channels, and as the Delta mutation spreads globally, a mysterious marketing agency is offering to pay social media influencers to post anti-vax disinformation. Mirko normally ignores offers from brands asking him to advertise their products to his more than 1.5 million subscribers. But the sponsorship offer he received in May this year was unlike any other. An influencer marketing agency called Fazze offered to pay him to promote what it said was leaked information that suggested the death rate among people who had the Pfizer vaccine was almost three…

NYC sent non-police teams to respond to mental health calls for a month. Data shows that more people got help and fewer were hospitalized.

Remember that meme that shows two cops smirking while the text describes a (not-pictured) man having a mental breakdown? The idea is that a man having a difficult public mental health episode requires the attention of law enforcement officers (who are trained to use violence). Here’s what really happened when NYC tested out deploying trained mental health experts instead of cops to assist people in mental distress. If the 911 call mentioned a weapon, the cops were dispatched. Sometimes the social workers on the scene did request backup from cops; however, the cops were twice as likely to request backup…

In major step, UCSF scientists translate unspoken words of paralyzed man into writing

The “neuroprosthetic” technology involved installing a credit-card-sized electrode panel on the surface of a volunteer’s brain, then collecting electrical signals as the person — a man completely paralyzed by a brain-stem stroke 15 years ago — tried to form words. Over a period of several months, scientists worked with the man to develop a catalog of 50 words that could be translated from his thoughts into hundreds of phrases and sentences, such as “I am thirsty” and “I need my glasses.” The translation produced up to 18 words a minute with 93% accuracy. Results of the trial were published Wednesday in the…

‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor tells unvaccinated, dying COVID patients

Donald Trump is vaccinated. Mitch McConnell is vaccinated. Fox personalities Hannity and Doocy and FOX owner Rupert Murdock are all vaccinated. “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their…

Journalists should not amplify the ableist biases of untrained sources

Being a cop, lawyer, patriot, protestor, or journalist does not qualify you to diagnose mental illnesses. Journalists are trained to cite credible sources, which would not include citing a random ableist conjecture voiced by a decision-maker or witness. If the source has verifiable knowledge of an actual diagnosis, and the diagnosis is legitimately relevant to the story, that’s a different matter. (Verify or duck.) Avoid unsubstantiated statements from witnesses or first responders attributing violence to mental illness. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent…

Vaccine hesitancy morphs into hostility, as opposition to shots hardens

What began as “vaccine hesitancy” has morphed into outright vaccine hostility, as conservatives increasingly attack the White House’s coronavirus message, mischaracterize its vaccination campaign and, more and more, vow to skip the shots altogether. The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions that the last election was stolen and the assault on the U.S. Capitol was overblown. —Washington Post

Take a moment to appreciate these good COVID-19 statistics

May 1, my state had the third-highest per-capita C-19 infection rate. A little over a month later, Pennsylvania now has the fifth-lowest rate. I am privileged that I have access to good healthcare and that my income hasn’t been affected by the lockdown, and that my school has taken the initiative to require this fall’s students to show evidence of vaccination (or to apply for accommodations). The pandemic is not over. Some states are seeing a resurgence. And of course the pandemic is still raging in many places around the world. But it’s worth it to take a moment to…