Thursday, July 24, 2014

Seriously, Plagiarism is Slimey

Senator John Walsh has a lot to be proud of - every veteran does. But being an arrogant fool about plagiarising more than 25% of his thesis paper isn't one of them.

Integrity, anyone? I mean, geez, I know plagiarizing is popular with pols (and others) but sometimes, people get fired for that kind of stuff - even in Russia.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

LeBron Looks Good on Paper

This is personal. It's my response to a letter LeBron wrote to me.

OK, he didn't really address it and lick the envelop himself. Of course I'm referring to the "letter" he dictated to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins.

His words won me over. And I wasn't exactly rolling out the red carpet last week, or anytime, since his rather overblown decision a few years back.

While Cleveland columnists spent oodles of time last week screaming "COME HOME, ALL IS FORGIVEN" I tweeted twice about the dude's contract options and made a rather concerted effort not to care because, hey, why should I? I'll never meet the guy, let alone know him, and in 10 years they'll be another "King." Insert eye-roll here. I'm just not into celebrities, and don't get me started on the absurdity that is pay scale in professional sports.

But that letter was really nice. If he means half of it, I'll join the chorus. Welcome home, LeBron. If you really are back to live YOUR dream - of being a better man in Northeast Ohio, well, more power to you. (If that's even possible.)

What won me over? The overall tone was good. You sound more accessible than you used to. And this part in particular, I really like:
"I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously."
I believe words can make a difference, like you apparently believe gestures can. So, OK: You show little boys and girls in NE Ohio that "making it big" doesn't necessarily mean leaving town. I'll be hoping you live up to those - and other- promising words in your letter.

A championship, plus a little respect for my adopted hometown, would be a terrific bonus.


A somewhat reluctant, newfound-again fan 

PS: I hope you'll be #23 again. My son kept his jersey, and he's almost grown into it. So let's do this!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Manipulated by Words? Only if You Don't Think

Words can manipulate. It's up to readers to think, harder than ever, about the written (or at least typed and disseminated) word. 

Two examples - quite worthy of consideration together, methinks - are Truth Goggles, another annotation tool for journalists, which Poynter breaks down nicely, and (yet) another little experiment by Facebook. 

Please writers, write well. Honestly, even. And people everywhere - please, read thoughtfully. 

In case you're not inclined to click on embedded links and read/decide for yourself, I'll offer my opinion here. For free, even. (#luckyyou)

That Facebook is attempting to make its product more popular using some of the principles psychology isn't surprising, nor is its rather manipulative "sharing" of the data. (Read the article and you'll see why I used quotation marks.)

As Poynter writes: 
The Truth Googles launching today is a tool to enable anyone to annotate an existing piece of online content to raise and answer questions about what's been reported/written. It can also offer a layer of personalized commentary.
Whether Truth Goggles is a tool or yet another shade of social media apps, I'm not sure.

I'll keep watching, reading, and thinking - and hoping you do, too.  

Monday, June 16, 2014

In praise of formulaic writing

Do you use formulas when you write?

The knee-jerk answer is "no!" You're creative, original, inspired... and in denial.

Formulas rock. And if you are inspired, original, and creative, you can use them to rock your readers' world.

The caveat, of course, is that you must have a unique story to tell. Or an unusual, captivating point of view. Or a twist. Or - marketing types take note - something truly new to say.

Rock on.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Clothing Sizes and Other Problems Writers Can't Solve

Thank you, Fitbay. Thank you for tackling one of the great first-world problems of our time: clothing sizes.

Yes, of course I mean women's clothing sizes. Really, if you can wear Dockers to work every day, you don't have a problem. At least, you don't have a problem getting dressed. While I'm sorry to set the women's movement back a hundred years or so, I'll say it: when you're a girl, sometimes solving the what-to-wear-to-work conundrum is the greatest challenge of the day.

Go ahead, guys. I'd love to hear you explain the difference between Junior, Misses, and Women's sizes. ... What's that? I can't hear you.

FitBay aims to fix all the sizing nonsense with an app (of course) and in the process, the company also
Funny essays on parenting, life, dogs, and other things I don't understand
came up with a practical use for the selfie. Can a Nobel Prize be far behind?

The first round of VC (about $2 million) should help us all move closer to a more comfortable waistband and find a stylish sleeve in which to muscle our way to the top. Which would be so much better than having to muscle our way into said top.

I suspect the company will need a huge influx of cash before it takes on the shoe sizing situation. Until then, happy shopping. Er - I mean, back to work.

 ~ ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~ ~

This isn't the first time I've written about the devastating state of women's clothing sizes. My first essay on the subject is included in the 2014 collection, Dumb Things We Say to Dogs.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Okay! or not OK? Either way, I love a good word origin story

I love, love, love this CBS broadcast about the history of the word Okay. OK?

Speaking of a storied past, a list recently circulated by a friend (thanks, Lisa!) highlights the history of several other words and phrases that could contribute racist undertones to everyday speech. While communication is always improved by using the just-right word (meaning, consider connotation and denotation), I think there's something else to point out:

Often, a word's origin is a solid hook on which to hang a history lesson.

Now that school's out for the summer, why not delve into a few moldy old words and see what you can dig up about the past? It could put a whole new spin on your communications.

Avoid Marketing Communications Missteps 

This belongs in the Well, Duh column, but is worth mentioning: When you're updating your company website, managing a corporate blog or social media campaign, or involved in any marketing communications activities, you'll certainly want to watch your words and know their histories. I love to say it, because it's so true: words should work for you, not against you.

Word Wayback Machines

Word origin teasers from Oxford Dictionaries
The history of Call Me Maybe, and what's a photocopier?
Etymonline had me at "wheel ruts" of modern English

Friday, May 2, 2014

Content Matters? When Everything Old is New Again

And in today's news, SEO best practices are changing. Industry analysts say they are expected to change more.

Time to dust this off and pull it out again:

Is content still king?

Look me up in a few years. We can do this again. ;)