The LA Times deletes tweets that used passive voice, as details emerged about police killing a teenage bystander (while they also killed an assault suspect)

Several journalist-involved tweet deletions occurred in connection with the Los Angeles Times.   Doesn’t that statement sound awkward?   Language like “was shot and killed by police” and “police-involved shooting” downplays the moral choices made by LEOs who aim their weapons at fellow human beings and squeeze the trigger.   If a police report states “a bullet from a police officer’s gun struck a suspect,” good journalists should notice and revise the “copspeak.” Journalists have their own jargon, too, such as using “alleged” to describe crimes that a suspect is accused of committing (because in America we are all “innocent…

Florida Woman Bites Camel

Identifying her as a “Florida woman,” as I interpret it, suggests that we’re dealing here with what Newfoundlanders would call a come-from-away and New Yorkers would call an out-of-towner. The tantalizing implication is that a local woman would have known that you could give a truck-stop camel an infection requiring antibiotics by biting its genitalia.

While the veterinarian was caring for the camel, was anyone attending to that Florida woman? She had, after all, been sat on by a six-hundred-pound camel, an experience that has to be at least uncomfortable and probably injurious. A reader has to wonder if she had some broken bones or some cracked ribs or at least a nasty taste in her mouth.

And we still have the deaf dog to deal with. –Calvin Trillin, New Yorker


Schisms (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 5)

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker is having trouble sleeping, except during Data’s poetry recitation. (“O Spot! The complex levels of behavior you display / Connote a fairly well developed cognitive array.”) As the ship faces a labor-intensive task of charting the Space Thing of the Week, LaForge has made some adjustments to the deflector grid. Riker’s dozing is more than a teaser gag; he reports to sickbay, and snaps at Dr. Crusher when she waves equipment near his head. Meanwhile, Worf flinches at Mr. Mot’s barber scissors. The sensors seem jumpy too — they detect what appears to be “a massive EPS…

A very shallow story that doesn’t provide any context for who is giving the high praise and why

High praise for a K-9 officer at Dallas Love Field Airport after more than $100,000 was found in a passenger's luggage. — CBSDFW (@CBSDFW) December 7, 2021 Some cop set up this shot hoping journos would publish feel-good stories unencumbered by context on exactly why it’s legal for cops to seize cash from travelers, and whether that law is ethical as it was written or how it is actually enforced. Because Ballentine is a good dog!! Who is doing the praising, and why? Who did the finding, and why? According to the story, the person with the cash…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | 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…

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

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…

Make your case stronger – argue against yourself

Academic argument depends on being able to produce the best possible information, presented in a convincing sequence. But we are usually advised we also need to take account of counter points. We need to consider and deal with different positions and troubling information. Wearing blinkers while arguing trips us up, stops us being credible. An obvious way to address the negative is to find alternative views in the literature, or in the public realm. It’s straightforward then – just cite and counter. Right? Well, maybe. Simply mentioning and summarily dismissing may not be enough. You may need to understand more…


Darmok (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 2) Picard of the Federation, His Metaphors Timely

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation After an awkward encounter with aliens whose language is incomprehensible, Picard finds himself on a strange planet. The alien captain, holding two daggers, offers one to Picard, saying “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.” When I first saw this episode, as a young grad student in a crowded room full of my regular Trek-watching friends, of course I thought of the classic Star Trek episode Arena, where Kirk is forced to face off against a slow-moving reptilian Gorn. Clearly the episode was designed so that we would expect a similar setup. On my current rewatch,…

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

In May, 2001 I was blogging about lanuguage, design and Cliffs Notes

In May 2001, I was blogging about Business and the English language (a humorous rant against business jargon) — Clint Witchalls, Spectator Some features you may need on your computer (like “Extend Deadline” and “Read Bosses’ Minds” The Creator of Cliffs Notes has Died (though I know you won’t read his whole obituary) “Telling the Truth about Damned Lies and Statistics“ The Gist Generation –Jeff Barbian Bad Design Can Be Costly –Jef Raskin, Forbes  


A friend asks: “Would it be bad form to point out the typos in my class materials?” My answer: Probably yes.

After I posted my grades for this term, I made a dumb typo in this celebratory meme, and a friend pointed out the error on social media. Another friend, who is just starting a new grad program, asked: Curious, would it be bad form to point out the typos in my class materials? I’d say that correcting an instructor’s proofreading errors is probably not the best way to start an academic relationship — unless of course the typos are substantial enough to interfere with your understanding of the material. I don’t mind if a peer corrects me on social media,…

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

In April, 2001 I was blogging about interactive fiction, Roget’s Thesaurus, John Lennon, HTML Frames, and C.S. Lewis

A student newspaper article about interactive fiction (quoting Emily Short and me) Blaming Roget’s Thesaurus Finding the URL of a framed HTML document My visit to the John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project HarperCollins re-issuing the works of C.S. Lewis Dave Winer on “The Web is a Writing Environment“