Why people only post kitten pictures and videos

Cute kitten!

If you express any kind of serious opinion about anything on Facebook, you bring out the trolls and the disagreements.

This is ironic, since Facebook tends to only show you posts that you have shown an interest in. Maybe Facebook with its unlimited post lengths draws people who are more into argument. In other words, maybe some people see the posts they see because Facebook has figured out they like to argue.

Continue reading “Why people only post kitten pictures and videos”

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New ebooks on Amazon

ebook covers
Two new ebooks from Yours Truly.

We’ve recently posted a couple of ebooks that, for the time being, are free on Amazon. They will revert to regular price in a few days, though. Grab them while you can, and tell interested friends! Continue reading “New ebooks on Amazon”

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Legal info from a different perspective

The Fully Informed Jury Association’s Web site starts with this quote (as of today):

The primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws, but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power by government.

The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to convict.

You’ll find a library of information, including legal precedents and links to other sites on the concept of jury nullification. It sounds dry, and it can be, but on the other hand, it’s also solid, and has the potential to empower average citizens.

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New category for speech ideas

I’ve added a new category that, over time, will grow to be a substantial part of this blog. Some sources offer good starting points for developing speech ideas, especially ideas that are “off the beaten path.” Post in this category point to these. Most, if not all, of these sites are chosen because they do not fit the predominate assumptions of our time and are likely to be contrarian as a result.

For instance, most people assume, based on media coverage, that there are basically only two political positions: liberal and conservative. In reality, political ideas exist in a much more complex matrix than a mere bipolar spectrum can comprise. A site such as Nolan Chart not only makes this clear, but also offers resources for exploring ideas not only of interest to peers in a speech class, but also outside the usual conversation.

It is not our purpose to advocate any particular position, but rather to enable effective advocacy by students, which is furthered by going outside the mainstream to surface and examine assumptions that otherwise would not even be noticed as assumptions.

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SL gives voice to the repressed

I remember when FAX machines made possible protests by Chinese dissidents against the Chinese government. That has been a few years. Now, Second Life seems to be providing an outlet that not only facilitates protests of a similar sort, but also brings people together in ways even beyond the Internet. The Web site “Foreign Policy in Focus” has a thorough article about “The Iranian Opposition’s Second Life” that is thought-provoking in a number of ways. It seems not only to have been a means of free expression, but also of providing something like face-to-face meetings in a “place” where face-to-face meetings otherwise can be very, very dangerous.

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Separating evidence and interpretation

This is for both speech and journalism students. People sometimes have trouble separating evidence from the conclusions drawn from that evidence. Here’s a great example. Recently a study in Wisconsin, which has had a school voucher program in place for a while, found “parity” between representative samples of both public school and voucher-funded private school students. (That means they performed about the same grade-wise.) I don’t know how long the link will remain live, but right now you can read a newspaper story at the Journal-Sentinel.

Even though the researchers have repeatedly warned of the dangers of basing too much on the results of one study, media and politicians seem to have jumped on the results, with all claiming it supports whatever their position is.

Opponents of school vouchers are saying, in essence, “See! See! Private schools aren’t doing it any better. So we can finally just drop all this voucher nonsense and keep doing things the way we were.”

Proponents of school vouchers are saying, in essence, “Let me get this straight. The private schools are achieving the same results as public schools while costing a third less, a savings of several thousand dollars per student. How is it again that this proves vouchers are a bad idea? I don’t get it.”

This alone should help students understand why persuasion must go well beyond simply piling up facts.

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