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Whispers of the Past-Herb Morrison and the Hindenburg

In this short documentary, I voice Herb Morrison, the radio reporter famous for narrating the 1937 crash of the Hindenberg — 85 years ago this month. It was an honor to learn more about this man (born in nearby Scottdale, Pa.) and to interpret his words. Local history can be so fascinating! Herb Morrison, native of Scottdale, PA, witnessed the first air disaster in US history in 1937. While that…

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

In May, 2002, I was blogging about… typefaces in period movies; poets Paul Dirac and Stewart Conn; web usability; fired for making a satirical game

In May, 2002, I was blogging about Rating historical movies on how accurately they represent period typefaces The average UK reader spends 17 minutes a day reading a newspaper, compared to 11 minutes reading a novel. Paul Dirac, honorary poet laureate of modern physics. Student web project on poet Stewart Conn’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” Fired for making a game (a government meat popsicle creates a satirical game that…

Nellie Bly statue to be unveiled at Pittsburgh airport Thursday

In 1889, Bly became famous for an-around-the-world journey she completed in a world-record 72 days, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure on a steamship from New York. The journey was inspired by Jules Verne’s widely read novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Bly chronicled her travels in a series of articles for the New York World newspaper and ended up writing a book of her own, “Around…

Windows 3.1 Turns 30: Here’s How It Made Windows Essential

After watching all the episodes of the 80s/90s Star Trek: TNG, with the beautifully designed fictional LCARS computer interfaces, it’s amazing to look at what actual computer interfaces looked like in the early 90s. (OK, the Macs of that era looked prettier.) 30 years ago—on April 6, 1992—Microsoft released Windows 3.1, which brought the company to a new level of success, kept the PC platform competitive with Macs, and set…

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

In April, 2002, I was blogging about an autistic person’s guide to asking a girl on a date; The Inform 6 Beginner’s Guide; broken links;

In April, 2002, I was blogging about Instructions for “Asking a Girl on a Date” (autistics.org) The Inform Beginner’s Guide (I edited this book on programming text adventure games in Inform 6) Broken Links: Just How Rapidly do Science Education Hyperlinks Go Extinct? (yes, the link was broken but I linked to the backup on the Internet Archive) Faking It: Sex, Lies and Women’s Magazines “Prenatal memory and learning” (language…

It’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” 111th birthday

Interesting introduction to the history of musical annotation and copyright. The journey to that sheet music copyright began with Greek and Roman grammarians; they had developed signs to guide declamation (high voice, low voice and falling voice). Musicians adapted those signs to “[indicate] the contour of a melody.” This provided “a memory aid to singers who knew words and melody by heart.” In the mid-1000s, medieval music scholar and teacher Guido of Arezzo decided there needed to be a…

Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, lost since 1915, is found off Antarctica

An expedition that set out in search of the lost ship of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton has found it — 106 years after the vessel sank off Antarctica. The wooden ship Endurance has been located remarkably intact about 10,000 feet underwater in the Weddell Sea. The find is “a milestone in polar history,” said Mensun Bound, a maritime archaeologist and the director of exploration on the expedition, called Endurance22. “This is by…

Jerry Lewis’s Costars Speak Out: “He Grabbed Me. He Began to Fondle Me. I Was Dumbstruck”

As a kid I watched Jerry Lewis movies when they turned up on the local independent TV channels, and typically when I was home from school on  Labor Day, I would watch at least part of his muscular dystrophy telethons. I’m saddened to read allegations about yet another established male professional using his position of power to manipulate a younger female artist by demanding sexual favors. Demanding? Requesting? Suggesting? Semantics.…

The overlooked masterpieces of 1922

In literature the response to the challenges and opportunities of the early 20th Century was Modernism – the rejection of traditional linear storytelling and the use of more challenging styles to reflect the new world – and its annus mirabilis is usually seen as 1922. It was an apt time for breakthroughs: the same year saw, among other world-defining events, the appointment of Joseph Stalin as General Secretary of the Communist Party…

Why Marlon Brando’s Streetcar Co-Stars Couldn’t Stand Him

Williams’ last play, The Glass Menagerie, had been a hit, but Streetcar was still a risk. A name star would make the show a surer thing. Besides, wasn’t this kid too young for the part? Kazan persisted. Selznick agreed to cast Brando, but only if they could get him to audition for Williams at the playwright’s house in Provincetown. Brando told Kazan he had no money to make the trip. Kazan gave the…

I just had some fun spotting a possible source of the word “dongle” (the plug-in security device)

The word “dongle” has long existed as a representation of the sound of a bell, and it seems in the very early 80s it acquired the meaning of “a plug-in computer security device,” but in a 1970s magazine devoted to recreational model building, “dingle” and “dongle” were terms denoting components that needed to be connected. When someone needed a word for “a small plug-in device that would make software run,”…

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

In February, 2002, I was blogging about…

In February, 2002, I was  logging about Robert E. McElwaine was a conspiracy theorist who had a habit of spamming multiple newsgroups with his political, religious, and social ideas. He used an account at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, and was very active until around the time I started teaching at that school. Animator Chuck Jones, who brought to life Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner, dies at 89.…

Academics want to preserve video games. The game industry is fighting them in court.

For decades, champions of the video game industry have touted gaming’s cultural impact as the equal of literature, film and music. Traditionally, the classic works from those mediums have been preserved for study by future generations, and amid gaming’s global rise in relevance, a group of video game scholars and advocates is pushing to preserve the game industry’s historic titles and legacy in a similar fashion. In the process, though,…

Grappling with Genocide: Fostering Empathy and Engagement through Text and Image (NEH funded education summit, Seton Hill University, July 11-22 2022)

Some of my amazing colleagues have collaborated on an amazing NEH-funded summer institute that provides teachers in grades 6-12 with resources for teaching about genocide. The event, scheduled for summer 2022, includes units on the erasure of Native Americans, an empathy-building Narrative 4 storytelling workshop, and more. There’s a stipend for participating in this event, and on-campus housing is available at a very modest cost — about 10% of the…

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

In December 2001 I was blogging about

In December 2001, I was blogging about Changes in Online Culture The End of Free (chronicles services that used to be free but that now cost money) Is the [Technology] Revolution Over? Imagine Silicon Valley Buried Like Pompeii Wil Wheaton While the character of teen wonder Wesley Crusher was annoying because weak scripts had him saving the ship too many times, I wrote this blog page that traced early references…

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

In November 2001 I was blogging about

In November 2001, I was blogging about Florida recounts would have favored Bush (contentions election famous for a Florida ballot that many voters found confusing) Is this a burger which I see before me, / The soft bun in my hand? Come, et me clutch thee. / I eat thee not, and yet I want thee still. (McDonald’s Soliloquy)’ The Tyranny of Nicespeak Treating users with disabilities as people What…

The world’s oldest story? Astronomers say global myths about ‘seven sisters’ stars may reach back 100,000 years

In cultures around the world, myths about “seven sisters” describe a cluster of stars, but today the naked eye can only discern six stars. What’s up with that? Cultures around the world call the Pleiades constellation ‘seven sisters’, even though we can only see six stars today. But things looked quite different 100,000 years ago. […] How come the Australian Aboriginal stories are so similar to the Greek ones? Anthropologists…