January 23, 2019

Nothing Is Ever Easy

You’d think with as much experience WordPress has at running a content management system that it would have a smooth process for importing content — especially backed-up content.

But, no.

Turns out the import system is full of problems.

Again, I’m working on it. All Rhetorica content still exists. It’s just going to be a bigger hassle getting it all back into place than I thought.

Stay tuned…

January 15, 2019

Working On It

I tried importing from my .xml backup file this morning with limited success. It seems most of the work is there, but it has been set to “draft.” No clue why.

I may go through and re-publish each entry.

I may try re-installing WordPress with a new database and then import the file.

Stay tuned…

December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas … and Yikes!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sadly, Rhetorica suffered a catastrophic event a few days ago. Still not sure exactly what happened. But, I do have a plan for fixing it. Luckily, I also have a complete back-up. I’m nowhere near the computer that holds the back up, so Rhetorica is likely to look like a bit sparse until the middle of January.

November 7, 2002

Looking ahead to 2004…

Democrats are now looking ahead to 2004, but no one appears to be the early front runner as the party begins casting about for a strategy. I would suggest that strategy include not forgetting about 2003. I’m not prepared to speculate beyond that truism now; I’m concerned with specific verbal/textual performances. This morning the Democrats are still licking their wounds, so it’s difficult to assess the quality of their response (allowing them, say, 48 hours leeway to wallow in their pain). The Scrum offers a 2004 candidate round-up (via Political Wire)

November 2, 2002

The perfect J-school…

Brent Cunningham is searching for the perfect journalism school. Lee Bollinger suspended the search for a new dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism earlier this year setting off a flurry of comment on the state of journalism education. Check here for background articles. Where’s my thinking on this? Well, I liked this quote by Jay Rosen, chairman of New York University

November 1, 2002

Peggy Noonan, writer…

I admire Peggy Noonan as a stylist. I enjoy her writing as writing. But Peggy Noonan is not as smart as she thinks she is when it comes to the intersection of language and politics. She remains the author of one of the single dumbest lines in modern political history: “Read my lips, no new taxes.”

Today, Noonan has let the writer in her get the better of the political pundit in her. I can see it now–looking for a way to make a powerful comment on the Wellstone memorial-rally, she says to herself: “Paul would have hated it; I’ll write it from his point of view!” But her column should be political punditry, not Creative Writing 101. The problem is we cannot know for sure what Wellstone’s point of view is or would have been. And, because of the differences in the way conservatives and liberals think, it’s for sure that at best Noonan is guessing based on a skewed point of reference. Worse, Noonan indulges in the fiction that she understands the transcendant–a conceit possible only to writers who know how well they command the style of writing if not its political nuances.

October 25, 2002

Making wise use of the internet…

Yesterday in my rhetoric class we discussed Neil Postman’s take on information theory. He defines “information,” “knowledge,” and “wisdom” in a hierarchy that I find particularly useful for teaching students how to construct persuasive messages and interpret journalistic messages. You’ll find this in chapter five of Building a Bridge to the 18th Century.

Information, according to Postman, is a statement about the world based on fact. Knowledge is organized information that is “embedded in some context” and has a purpose, such as leading one to “to seek further information in order to understand something about the world.” He draws this distinction: “Without organized information, we may know something of the world, but we know very little about it.” Wisdom, then, is the “capacity to know what body of knowledge is relevant to the solution of significant problems.” Or, put another way, knowing what questions to ask. The “fundamental requirement” of a knowledge medium is that it explain context and purpose, i.e. make it clear “why we are being given information.” Postman makes the argument that newspapers should be in the knowledge and wisdom business, not the information business.

Television is in the information business. So is the internet according to Postman. But I disagree about the internet. The internet is certainly an efficient information medium, but we can see that newspapers, especially those with reporters and editors who aspire to more than the dissemination of information, help make this a knowledge medium, too. The presence of newspapers on the internet help move it up the hierarchy. And I would say that bloggers create the potential for wisdom in this medium. When well done, blogging organizes information by context and purpose and shows what bodies of knowledge are relevant to solving the problems of the day. In other words, I argue that blogging can be a wise use of the internet.

Will we rise to that standard?

October 25, 2002

Doonesbury watch, day 5…

I don’t have much to say about today’s installment of Doonesbury. Garry Trudeau has failed to make any significant critical comments about blogging. To make such comments would require him to consider the *pundits and other bloggers who take their work seriously–by that I mean bloggers who see themselves as contributing to civic conversation.

October 24, 2002

Snipers and terrorists…

Yesterday I detected a few rumblings in the blogosphere about the lack of coverage of the hostage situation in Moscow. Is this evidence of some kind of bias? Yes, it is. Television news has what I would call a proximity bias: what happens here in the U.S. is more important than what happens elsewhere unless what happens elsewhere is happening to Americans.

Note that I confine this bias, for the most part, to television. Tonight I watched News Night with Aaron Brown on CNN. The entire show was devoted to the capture of the beltway snipers. A quick surf around the “dial” shows that networks are also giving far more play to the snipers than the terrorists. But there was prominent, above-the-fold, front-page coverage of the Moscow situation in this morning’s Kansas City Star. A quick check on the internet demonstrated that many newspapers gave the hostage situation similar play (yes, that’s really an unsupportable assumption about the print analogs). And it is no trick finding coverage–text, audio, video–all over the internet.


Action in Moscow via Reuters

October 23, 2002

Babies and incubators revisited…

A columnist for The Business Times of Asia recently wrote about the fabrication of atrocities to encourage American outrange against Iraq in 1990. The PR firm Hill & Knowlton is considered largely responsible for the story that Iraqi soldiers removed hundreds of infants from incubators. PR Watch offers this as proof. Hill & Knowlton responded today to the Business Times column.

What makes this a sticky issue now, obviously, is that we’re being encouraged to see war as the best way to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Creating the image of the enemy as evil or less than human is the time-honored method of producing fervor for war. Whether or not war is the right thing to do in 2002, I cannot say. But I do know we should be carefully considering all the political messages and the goals of the sources of those messages

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